CCPC asks Congress: Amend Anti-Cybercrime Law

By: Morexette Marie B. Erram - Multimedia Reporter - CDN Digital | June 15,2020 - 04:46 PM

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CEBU CITY, Philippines – The Cebu Citizens-Press Council (CCPC) denounced the conviction of Rappler journalists Maria Ressa and Reynaldo Santos for cyber-libel.

CCPC, a Cebu-based forum for media issues that aims to defend press freedom and promote professional journalism, is also calling for Congress to amend the Cyber-libel law.

CCPC urges Congress to make its intent explicit: amend the Anti-Cyber Crime Law to fix the prescriptive period, not leave it to judges who may err or be misguided in interpreting the law,” Lawyer Pacheco Seares, CCPC executive director, said in a statement released on Monday.

A trial court in Manila convicted Ressa, CEO and executive editor of Rappler, and Santos, its former writer-researcher, with cyber-libel on Monday.

It stemmed from a lawsuit filed by businessman Wilfredo Keng pertaining to Rappler’s article originally published in 2012, and ‘republished’ in 2014.

The case against Ressa and Santos were lodged in 2017 or three years after the ‘republication’ of the news item involving Keng.

READ MORE: Manila Court finds Rappler’s Maria Ressa, writer guilty of cyber libel

“In both instances, the crime had long prescribed, based on the rule in Article 355 of the Revised Penal Code, which says ‘The crime of libel or other similar offenses shall prescribe in one year’,” explained Seares.

Seares also said stretching the prescriptive period or the time limit for filing a case on anyone violating the Cybercrime Prevention Act of 2012 will cause greater harm to journalists.

Prescription period for libel was precisely fixed at not more than one year so that it won’t be used as a threat against the alleged offender,” he said.

“The prolonged threat will cause greater harm to journalists who need to do their job freely without the constant threat of being sued, even over material published more than a decade before,” he added.

Seares said CCPC expressed concern on the impact of Ressa and Santos’ conviction to journalists in the country.

“CCPC worries specifically on the impact of the decision on future prosecutions for cyber-libel. It worries for journalists who’d be facing for 12 years the threat of litigation for each potentially libelous publication,” he said. /dbs

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TAGS: CCPC asks Congress: Amend Anti-Cybercrime Law, Cebu Citizens-Press Council, Cyber-libel law, Lawyer Pacheco Seares, Rappler CEO Maria Ressa
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