Sunday, October 7, 2012
CYBER CRIME LAW: According to an Accused
As an accused of criminal libel suit myself, I pity those future accused under the new Cyber Crime Law authored by Senator Edgardo Angara and colleagues. My case metes only below 4 years and 2 months of imprisonment in case the court’s convict me, while those accused in the new law (Republic Act 10175) face an imprisonment of six years and one day to 12 years. The only difference of my case with the new law is my penalty under the Revised Penal Code of the Philippines is covered by the Probation Law (where a first convicted offender cannot be imprisoned), while those convicted under RA 10175 goes to jail because Probation Law covers only imprisonment of below six years.
Senator Angara’s downplaying of the new cyber crime law that it should not worry Filipinos is out-of-synch.
Firstly, the authors of the law should bear in mind that other countries have decriminalized libel by imposing instead a civil sanction to the offender. Secondly, the Constitutional mandate of freedom of expression should be encouraged instead of throwing a harsher punishment on its stead Thirdly, this law would surely inconvenience the accused.
For example, he committed an alleged libel through his computer at his house in Ilocos Norte to someone who lives in Mindanao. The police, with an arrest warrant, pick him up in his place and bring him to Mindanao. He posts bail of P10 thousand at the Regional Trial Court there and his misery begins.
Imagine, every hearing in court he is required to appear there otherwise the court cites him in contempt or he will be tried in absencia that could surely land him in jail for up to 12 years
Surely RA 10175 is a harsh a law, Angara et al should have mitigated the penalty clause there than the one provided in the Revised Penal Code.
Oh by the way, thanks to those Good Samaritans who pick the tab of P10, 650 bail and other fees imposed by the court for my temporary liberty. This is the risk of being a journalist. You expose something imbued with public interest but you get a backlash of a bail bond in the court and another tens of thousands of pesos acceptance and per appearance fees for a lawyer.
As you know , together with two of my colleagues in this paper, I was sued by Board Member Alfonso Bince for libel after I quoted the bravado's of BM Danny Uy that most of his colleagues in the Sanggunian Panlalawigan of Pangasinan were recipients of P40 thousand a month jueteng payola.
Since the case is already at the Regional Trial Court in Rosales, Pangasinan awaiting for our arraignment, I’ll not talk about its merits. You know that sub judice thing.