Ma. Daniella Borrero
Ellen Jane of General Santos City received a complaint for libel from the PNP-Region 12 Anti-Cybercrime Group. It was based on the verbal altercation she had with a fellow student on Facebook. She was unable to respond accordingly due to her unfamiliarity with the criminal procedure and lack of funding for proper legal representation, and it later on escalated to a warrant of arrest. Ellen Jane ended up getting jailed for several days before her family was able to hire a lawyer and raise the Php. 10,000 bail.
This opening anecdote of Atty. Lambino in her Brownbag session, The Revengers: The Meteoric Rise in Numbers of Online Libel Complaints in the Era of “Cybercrime Prevention Act”, RA 10175, is an illustration of online libel cases that have been “meteorically” increasing in occurrence in recent years.
The event discussed Republic Act No. 10175, better known as the “Cybercrime Prevention Act of 2012”. This law aims to swiftly investigate and apprehend perpetrators that commit digital crimes like online hacking, ATM fraud, credit card fraud, child pornography, cyber sex crimes, among others. These crimes have the elements of intent to gain through harassment, threats or violence. In order to better implement this, the government created various branches such as the DOJ- Office of Cybercrime (DOJ-OOC), the NBI-Office of Cybercrime Division (NBI-CCD) and the PNP-Cybercrime Group (PNP-ACG).
According to the Cybercrime law, cybersex, child pornography and libel are all classified as content-related offenses (Chapter 2, Sec. 4c). Data show that among the cybercrimes labeled as content-related offense, the online libel complaints increased most dramatically more than cybersex and child pornography in only 2 years.
In the year 2014, there was a total of 631 cases of cybercrime in the country, the bulk of which was cybersex crimes with 355 cases. But in 2016, out of the 640 content-related cybercrimes, cybersex cases decreased to only 5. But the number of libel cases increased as the number of complaints jumped from 247 to 603 cases.
This brownbag session was held on November 23, 2017 at Plaridel Hall, University of the Philippines – Diliman. This event is a part of the Office of Research and Publications CMC Research Brownbag Series. Atty. Lambino is currently an assistant professor of Journalism at the College of Mass Communication, University of the Philippines Diliman.
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