The arrest of mining activist Esperlita Garcia just might be the key to scrap the Anti-cybercrime law.
Human rights lawyer Harry Roque explained several groups may cite the “illegal” arrest of Garcia as an example of constitutional flaws contained in the Cybercrime Prevention Act.
“I advise her to intervene in the case. She (Garcia) needs to go to the Supreme Court,” Roque said.
Roque, who expressed willingness to extend legal assistance to Garcia, said the arrest case would strengthen pending petitions to declare Anti-cybercrime law as unconstitutional in the High Court.
The University of the Philippines (UP) law professor admitted of trying to get in touch with Garcia since her arrest on Thursday.
Aparri RTC Judge Conrado Tabaco issued the arrest warrant based on the libel case filed against her, which arose from her Facebook post about an aborted anti-mining rally on April 2011.
Garcia, the president of the Gonzaga Alliance for Environmental Protection and Preservation, is being considered as the first person to be arrested for highly contested Anti-cybercrime law.
Senator Teofisto “TG” Guingona III, who filed a petition asking SC to declare Anti-cybercrime law unconstitutional, said Garcia should not be arrested since the new law’s effectivity has been suspended.
“Since the Supreme Court has issued a TRO, the law is not in force right now. Its effectivity is suspended. No one can be arrested for the cybercrime law right now,” Guingona insisted.
Guingona filed a petition asking the Supreme Court to declare provisions on libel and justice deparment's take down authority on questionable data from the internet unconstitutional.
He argued that law's provision imposing up to 12 years of imprisonment on those who commit libel on the internet violates Constitutional principle of equal protection from the law.
In early October, the Supreme Court issued a temporary restraining order on the implementation of Cybercrime Prevention Act just weeks after its enactment.
But Roque warned that similar arrests will happen again in the future unless Garcia asks for help from SC.
He explained bringing Garcia’s case may help the High Court in maintaining status quo on arrests for cybercrime offenses including future libel cases that deals with defamation committed online.
“This will happen over and over again to people like her who use privileged form of communication. Some people will use this,” Roque explained.
“The only way to stop this from happening again is to repeal the criminal liability of libel (under Revised Penal Code) or declare the anti-cybercrime law unconstitutional,” he reiterated.
Garcia has been able to temporarily stay out of detention after posting a bail of P10,000 on Friday.
Communist insurgents killed five civilians and kidnapped five soldiers in the southern Philippines on Tuesday in the latest of a series of violent acts following the collapse of peace talks, authorities said. …