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Marikina Chapter

Having been locally accredited by the Commission on Elections (COMELEC), the National Citizens Movement for Free Election (NAMFREL) and its local chapters nationwide – including its Marikina office – are in the thick of preparations mobilizing their  respective volunteer teams in the conduct of voters’ information, education, monitoring and other poll-watching activities.

Aside from having its weekly series of Voters Education Seminars in its LIVE Van office/headquarters, NAMFREL Marikina will be conducting a regular two-hour Electoral Community Forum (ECF) which will be anchored in an innovative mobile stage truck equipped with lights & sound, including visual aids in imparting a general knowledge to voters in order to develop their powers of reasoning and judgment in exercising their right to vote intellectually.

In line with this mandate of ensuring and delivering HOPE – Honest, Orderly and Peaceful Elections – NAMFREL Marikina is seeking your financial assistance or  on any “in-kind” contributions – such as food, mineral water, office supplies/equipment, etc. – in helping put to realization its HOPE (or Help Out Pilipinos Excel) campaign towards Good Governance, which the local chapter believes starts from electing the right officials at the onset.

Please send your donation to:

Citizens Congress for Good Governance, Inc. (C2G2)
Savings Account No. 244/1/000426/37
Sterling Bank of Asia, Marikina City Branch

For more information please contact;

CP # 0907-815.36.76

CP # 0917-8560604

CP # 0917-355-7055

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Ang Kinatatakutang abuso sa Cybercrime Law, Naganap na

Ang pangamba ng Netizens’ sa Republic Act No. 10175 or the Anti-Cybercrime Act of 2012 ay naganap na.

Bagama’t ang alegasyong kremin o libelo ay ginawa matagal ng panahon, bago paman isabatas ang nasabing batas ito ay may pang-aabusong gianagamit ng may impluwensya, kapangyarihan at may salapi.

Ito ang ginamit laban kay Esperlita Garcia ng Calayan, Gonzaga, Cagayan para aristohin sa kanyang pagpapahayag gamit ang Facebook.

Ang kanyang pagpapahayag sa Facebook ay ginawa nakaraang taon pa. Subalit, siya ay inaresto ngayon lamang Oktobre 16, 2012 kung kailan ang Cybercrime Law na naging kontrobersyal ay pansamantalang wala bisa batay sa TRO na inilabas ng Supreme Court.

Tama at pinatotohanan ng usaping ito ang malaganap na pangamba ng taongbayan na ang Cybercrime Law ay aabusuhin lamang ng mga taong may sapat na salapi at impluwensya sa hukuman at pamahalaan.

Marapat lamang na ang Batas na ito ay tuluyang IPAWALANG BISA ng Korte suprema. ###

Read more from the Source: Cagayan anti-mining leader arrested over Facebook post

Cybercrime Law not in the Philippine Development Plan 2011-2016

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Philippine Development Plan 2011-2016

Good Governance and the Rule of Law

Good governance sets the normative standards of development. It fosters participation, ensures transparency, demands accountability, promotes efficiency, and upholds the rule of law in economic, political and administrative institutions and processes. It is a hallmark of political maturity but also a requisite for growth and poverty reduction, for there are irreducible minimum levels of governance needed for large- scale investment to occur and for social programs to be supported. A cornerstone of good governance is adherence to the rule of law, that is, the impersonal and impartial application of stable and predictable laws, statutes, rules, and regulations, without regard for social status or political considerations. This chapter assesses the quality of governance in the country and identifies key governance challenges that constrain development. It then lays down corresponding strategiesto achieve good governance anchored on the rule of law, and provide an enabling environment for national development.

Assessment and Challenges

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Citizens’ Participation

Although citizens have a legal right of access to communication, there is no established legal route for citizens to petition to obtain government records.

The actual practice of many citizens testifies to the highly uneven willingness or preparedness of government offices to provide information as well as the poor quality of the information provided, if at all.

This is also seen from the country’s low score for the 2008 Global Integrity Report under the category of Civil Society, Public Information and Media category, which even dropped one point from the 2007 score of 69. The proposed Freedom of Information Act is an important step towards addressing this problem.

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Strategic Framework

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Enhance Citizens’ Access to Information and Participation in Governance

  1. Pursue the Passage of the Freedom of Information Bill. The Freedom of Information Bill is intended to give the citizenry access to information by allowing full disclosure of all transactions which are of public interest. It aims to institute transparency in the national and local government’s undertakings relative to loans, treaties, contacts and other similar transactions.
  2. Issue an Executive-Wide Policy on Public Access to Information Pending the Passing of the Right to Information Act
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Wala sa nasabing Development Plan ang Cybercrime Law. Sa katonayan ang binigyan diin sa nasabing Strategic Framework ay ang pagkakaroon ng Batas na kung tawagin ay Freedom Of Information Law para sa ganun ay magkaroon ng partikular na batas para magkaroon ng access ang mamamayan sa mga inpormasyon sa pamahalaan.

Sa ganitong karaanan mabibigyan ng kapangyarihan ang mamamayan at sa huli ay nagkakaroon ng opotunidad na makilahok sa pamamahala.

At habang hindi pa napagtitibay ang FOI ay magkakaroon ng patakaran na pansamantalang gabay at/o panuntunan sa kalayaan sa inpormasyon.

Pinagtagal na ang FOI ng mga mambabatas, wala padin ang sinasabing pansamantalang patakaran. Ang hindi katangap-tangap ay ang bigla at pagmamadaling pagsasabatas ng Cybercrime Law na bandang huli ay may pag-amin ang mga mambabatas na sila ay nagkamali sa nasabing batas.

Matatandaan na ang Cybercrime Law ay biglang lumitaw at pinagtibay, pagkatapos na paratangan ang isang senator ng plagiarism at sinabi ng senador na ito na siya ay biktima ng cyber bully.

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Sandigan orders Arroyo arrest

Former President Gloria-Macapagal Arroyo. AP FILE PHOTO

MANILA, Philippines — The Sandiganbayan First Division on Thursday ordered the arrest of former President and now Pampanga Representative Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo and 9 others  in connection with a P300 million plunder case involving the alleged misuse of Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office (PCSO) intelligence funds.

Sandiganbayan Presiding Justice Efren Dela Cruz signed the arrest order and was issued Wednesday at 3 p.m.

Also ordered arrested are her co-accused former General Manager Rosario Uriarte; Sergio Valencia, Manuel Morato, Raymundo Roquero, Jose Taruc V and Ma. Fatima Valdes; former COA Chairman Reynaldo Villar and Region V head Nilda Plaras, and PCSO assistant general manager for finance Benigno Aguas.

Arroyo, who was freed from detention at the Veterans Memorial Medical Center on a P1 million bail last July 25 for an  electoral sabotage case, is facing jail time once again after the Sandiganbayan issued the arrest warrant for the plunder case filed by Ombudsman Conchita Carpio-Morales.

She also posted bail for a graft and corruption case pending before the Sandiganbayan.

Plunder is a non-bailable offense.

The Pampanga lawmaker filed her certificate of candidacy for re-election at a Comelec office in San Fernando, Pampanga Wednesday.

In the complaint, The respondents allegedly conspired in withdrawing, amassing, accumulating public funds worth over P300 million from July 2007 to January 2010.

Uriarte allegedly wrote several letters to Arroyo to authorize her to utilize the intelligence funds for PCSO to help them in conducting intelligence operations.

During the Senate inquiry in 2011, Uriarte said the funds were used to investigate how medicines given to beneficiaries ended up in commercial markets and the creation of measures to counter scams victimizing lotto bettors.

This is the first plunder case filed against Arroyo and the third criminal case filed against her—for electoral sabotage pending before the Pasay City regional trial court and graft and corruption before the Sandiganbayan.

Inquirer News 
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Venezuela’s election system is high tech but low trust

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CARACAS, Venezuela — As the United States squabbles over its voter ID laws, Venezuelans will face one of the most rigorous systems in the hemisphere when they head to the polls Oct. 7.

After keying in an identification number, a voter’s photo and name will pop up on a screen. Only after validating their identity with a thumb swipe over an electronic reader will the voting machine be activated.

The government and independent observers say the new system is one of the most sophisticated in the hemisphere. It’s designed to weed out double voting and leave behind a paper and digital trail that makes it fast and easy to audit.

“As a matter of fact, of the 92 elections that we’ve monitored, I would say the election process in Venezuela is the best in the world,” former President Jimmy Carter said this month at The Carter Center.

But in polarized Venezuela – where President Hugo Chavez is facing one of the tightest races of his 14-year tenure – some are fretting that the new machines, and other quirks of the electoral system, may give the government an edge.

Independent auditors and the opposition’s own technical team say the thumbprint reader attached to the Smartmatic voting machines scrambles the order of votes, so there’s no way to know who voted for whom. But the fact that the identification system is visibly linked to the voting panel seems designed to generate doubts, said Ludwig Moreno, a member of the Voto Limpio election watchdog group.

“Let me be clear: the vote is most likely secret, but it doesn’t appear to be secret,” he said. “And that’s why these machines were installed.”

Voter privacy is a sensitive issue in Venezuela. In 2004, the names of more than 2.4 million people who had signed a presidential recall petition were released.

Government agencies were accused of firing and discriminating against people on the Lista Tascon. In 2005, Chavez called on his supporters to quit using the list, but it left many wary of openly opposing the administration.

Still, many view the privacy warnings as an opposition ploy to cloud an eventual Chavez victory. On a recent weekday, Luis Otorio, 62, a retired dentist, stepped out of one of the mock voting booths set up around Caracas. He declared the new system “super fino” and said the only people who were questioning it were supporters of opposition candidate Henrique Capriles.

“They’ll say or do anything to win this race,” Otorio said. “They’re thrashing around like drowning chickens.”

On paper, Venezuela is one of the most civically active nations on the planet, with a voter registration rate of 96.5 percent. (By comparison, only 65 percent of potential U.S. voters are registered.) The Chavez administration has said the historic levels are the result of a massive registration drive, which began in 2003. But for some, the figures are too good.

Alfredo Weil was on the board of Venezuela’s election council for 12 years, most recently in 1994. Weil, who now runs the Esdata election watchdog group, points out that in 2003 the registration rate was 76.5 percent. He said it is hard to believe that voter rolls increased so dramatically over such a short period of time.

“According to government figures all but (3 percent) of people took the time to register to vote but abstention is 30 percent,” he said. “It just makes no sense.”

While Costa Rica and Peru have similar registration levels of 95 percent, voting in those countries is compulsory.

To the conspiracy-minded, many of those new registrations represent a slush fund of phantom voters that can be pressed into government service.

Venezuela’s Catholic University, however, suggests more mundane reasons. In a June study, the university found that authorities were not expunging dead voters fast enough. As a result, 49,500 voters who died between 2011 and 2012 remained on the rolls.

But the study also found that 14 out of 24 Venezuelan states have more registered voters than people eligible to vote. The rural northern province of Delta de Amacuro, for example, has 122 percent more registered voters than its projected population.

Despite these “inconsistencies,” the study determined that the registration rolls “meet the minimum requirements to hold presidential elections October 7.”

Weil says the only reliable way to audit voter rolls is to match them to birth certificates. In 2005, the Inter-American Institute of Human Rights’ Center for Electoral Promotion and Assistance tried to do just that.

But when it asked the government for the birth records of 12,820 voters picked at random, authorities could not produce enough documents to run the test. The center did not draw any conclusions from the omission but simply skipped that section of the audit.

One of the keys to any election is observation. “Even well-structured electoral systems in functional democracies can be manipulated if a disorganized opposition isn’t capable of having witnesses at the voting booths,” noted a recent report by the Wilson Center.

In Venezuela, that challenge is growing exponentially. During the 2000 presidential election, there were 7,000 voting tables nationwide, according to the Venezuelan embassy in the United States. This year there will be 39,226 voting tables. The increase may be good for voters, but it’s a logistical nightmare for political parties trying to cover far-flung polling stations. According to a Voto Limpio analysis, 150 of those centers have less than 12 voters and 15 of them only have one voter.

The issue is compounded by the fact that, as in the United States, Venezuela’s candidates don’t receive public financing, and the nation hasn’t invited international observers since 2006.

In past elections, there have been accusations of ballot stuffing at remote polling stations. And some blame the practice for Chavez’s ability to crush a 2004 recall referendum.

In 2006, the peer-reviewed journal International Statistical Review published an analysis of the recall and found 18 percent of voting centers – representing some 2.6 million voters – showed irregular voting patterns. According to the journal’s analysis, the opposition should have won the referendum with 52 to 60 percent of the vote, instead of losing it with 41 percent, as the government tally shows.

The opposition says it will have enough volunteers – 256,423 – to cover every single voting center this year. And Capriles recently told The Miami Herald that he had won four hotly contested elections “because I’ve always guarded my votes.”

Most experts agree that the potential for wide-scale fraud is minimal and the government has made strides to improve the election system.

“The election process is more or less protected,” said Saul Cabrera with Consultores 21 polling firm. “But almost half of Venezuelans still don’t trust the system.”

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Raising governance standards helps boost competitiveness

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The last two weeks have seen a number of conferences focused on the topic of governance and the economy. The midyear Economic Briefing, with the theme “Good Governance is Good Economics,” was held on Sept. 17. On the same day, The Asia Society opened its 2-part series, “Philippine Transparency Forum,” which had speakers from abroad sharing their experiences in battling corruption and promoting good governance.

On Sept. 18, the Makati Business Club and European Chamber of Commerce held its second Integrity Summit. The Integrity Initiative has signed up over 1,500 companies to its cause to promote good governance. During the summit, Social Weather Stations presented its 10th SWS Enterprise Survey on Corruption.

On Sept. 19, The Asia Foundation organized a briefing on the SWS Enterprise Survey, while The Asia Society ran the second part of its Philippine Transparency Forum series with a workshop with the Governance Cluster of the Cabinet.

On Sept. 20 and 21, the Ombudsman chaired a conference on the Apec (Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation) Code of Conduct of Business Against Corruption, with speakers from Transparency International, the United Nations, and every Apec member-economy.

And on Sept. 26, the Institute for Solidarity in Asia, National Competitiveness Council, and Center for International Private Enterprise held the semiannual Public Governance Forum to review the work of agencies and local government units in the Performance Governance System using the Balanced Scorecard management tool.

Was this all mere coincidence or some grand design? Whatever we choose to call it, we are clear about one thing: the realization that governance matters and that it has a direct impact on the economy and on people’s lives.

Indeed, the topic of governance and bureaucracy and bureaucratic reform plays an important role in global competitiveness reports. It is covered in the WEF’s Global Competitiveness Index, IFC’s Ease of Doing Business Report, IMD’s World Competitiveness Report, Transparency International’s Corruption Perception Index, and Heritage Foundation’s Economic Freedom Index. In most of these reports, the Philippines has been on an uptrend in the area of governance and anticorruption. We are up 23 ranks in the governance and institutions category of the WEF and up five countries in the governance sections of the IMD report and the Corruption Perception Index. In the latest SWS Enterprise Survey on Corruption, the government’s rating from the business community with respect to its fight against corruption registered a dramatic rebound since 2009, the last year the survey was conducted. Of 25 agencies reviewed, including the Office of the President, all but two reflected improved scores, with the Office of the President jumping from a negative 37 percent net rating to a positive 81 percent.

What do these ratings mean for the average Filipino? In two words, savings and quality. At the Department of Public Works and Highways, one of the top-rated agencies in this Balanced Scorecards program, its reform program has had an effect on its ability to deliver projects on time, at the right cost, and with the right quality. After public spending slowed down last year due to procurement reforms and fixes, the DPWH has run ahead of pace consistently this year and bid out projects with as much as 30 percent savings, resulting in billions of pesos in savings.

What else can we do to improve our situation? A lot, because we started from a relatively low base. Let me outline some steps to consider.

Streamlining. By most measures, our government procedures take too long, largely because so many steps seem unnecessary and the process is so manual. The IFC’s Ease of Doing Business Report measures 10 key transactions from Starting a Business to Closing a Business. In almost all categories, the Philippines ranks poorly because procedures are long, complicated, or expensive relative to others. We rank 136th among 183 economies.

One way to address this issue is to streamline processes through ESSA—Eliminate, Simplify, Standardize, Automate—steps. The basic theory is that the simpler, clearer, and more transparent the process, the lower the chances for corrupt practices.

Monitoring and evaluation. More periodic customer satisfaction surveys of public services undertaken by independent groups will help both the government and the public measure public services and improve them. The Civil Service Commission has started this by monitoring compliance with the Anti-Red Tape Act. The SWS Enterprise Survey on Corruption is a welcome return of a 10-year series which annually measures the business community’s experience and perception of corruption.

Multisectoral stakeholder advisory councils. At the NCC, the Performance Governance System program organizes multisectoral councils for government agencies undergoing the Balanced Scorecard process. These councils provide advice to agency heads and review the strategic plan targets of these agencies. With the government now moving toward performance-based incentives systems, it will be good for the private sector and civil society to help in setting performance targets. These councils can do that. I propose that we organize multisectoral councils in all major departments so we can institutionalize performance-based programs in government.

The demands of competitiveness suggest that we support a continued systematic approach to raising the standards of governance.

Guillermo M. Luz is cochair of the National Competitiveness Council. He may be contacted at gm.luz@competitive.org.ph.

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Cybercrime law and freedom of expression

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Despite the view of the United Nations Committee on Human Rights that Philippine criminal libel is contrary to Article 19 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) on freedom of expression, Congress and President Benigno Aquino III still enacted the Cybercrime Prevention Law which, among other things, added electronic libel as a new criminal offense.

Worse, this new law increased the penalty for cyber libel to prision mayor from the current prision correctional provided under the Revised Penal Code.

This means that electronic libel is now punished with imprisonment from six years and one day to up to 12 years, while those convicted for ordinary libel under the RPC are subject to imprisonment only from six months and one day to four years and two months. And because parole, a means by which a convict may be spared from actual imprisonment may be granted only to those sentenced to serve a prison term for no more than six months and one day, anyone convicted for cyber libel will inevitably serve a prison term.

Since the Philippines leads the rest of the world in terms of Facebook and Twitter usage, this means that unlike ordinary libel complaints which are oftentimes brought against printed newspapers -given the element of publication, any user of these leading social media tools is now liable for prosecution. The fact that an allegedly libelous writing appeared on the Internet is already sufficient to prove the element of publication.

The new Cybercrime law is an outright defiance of the UN Human Rights Committee View in the case of Alexander Adonis vs. Republic of the Philippines.

In that View, the UNHRC declared that Philippine libel law under the RPC contravenes freedom of expression on two counts: one, it is a disproportionate means by which to achieve its avowed goal of protecting the privacy of private persons; and two, because there is an alternative in the form of civil libel, or the payment of damages.

The UN HCR also took the view that our libel in the Philippines, because it does not recognize truth as a defense, is additionally defective on this ground.

While the View of the UNHRC is this instance is non-binding, the Philippines nonetheless is under an obligation to heed it because of the maxim “pacta sundt servanda”, or that treaty obligations must be complied with in good faith. The UN Human Rights Committee Views, since the membership of the body consist of leading experts in human rights, are accepted as authoritative on the issue of states compliance with their obligations under the ICCPR.

Simply put, the view against our libel law is very strong evidence of breach of a state obligation under the ICCPR And instead of heeding the UN’s call to review its existing libel law, Congress and President Aquino appeared to have slammed the body by enacting an even more draconian legislation against cyber libel.

Our constitutional commitment to freedom of expression has long been recognized. Justice Holmes, for instance, wrote: “When men have realized that time has upset many fighting faiths, they may come to believe even more than they believe the very foundations of their own conduct that the ultimate good desired is better reached by free trade in ideas — that the best test of truth is the power of the thought to get itself accepted in the competition of the market . . . .”

The commitment exists because it is only through freedom of expression that we are able to discern the truth and able to fiscalize despotic regimes: “The freedom to speak one’s mind is not only an aspect of individual liberty—and thus a good unto itself—but also is essential to the common quest for truth and the vitality of society as a whole. We have therefore been particularly vigilant to ensure that individual expressions of ideas remain free from governmentally imposed sanctions.

By criminalizing internet libel, government expanded the infringement of freedom of expression even to the realm that has enabled us to give life to the principle of a free market place of ideas- the internet. Prior to this law, it is ironic that the Philippines was even cited by the United Nations for not interfering with the internet. The law is a testament to the reality that despite the overwhelming mandate given to this administration, coupled with its unprecedented public approval ratings, it continues to be insecure and unable to compete in the market place of ideas.

We will see the Aquino administration in court on this one. And we will prevail. For unlike other laws that enjoy the presumption of regularity, this cybercrime law, insofar as it infringes on freedom of expression, will come to court with a very heavy presumption of unconstitutionality.

There can be nothing sadder than suing the son of icons of democracy for infringement into a cherished right.

Source: Manila Standard Today | By Atty. Harry Roque Jr. | Posted on September 20, 2012 | 12:01am |

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Cybercrime Prevention Act unconstitutional’—Senator Guingona

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Senator Teofisto Guingona III is accompanied by lawyer Alex Avisado and several others in filing the 4th petition with the Supreme Court against questionable provisions of the Cybercrime Prevention Act of 2012.

Senator Teofisto Guingona III is accompanied by lawyer Alex Avisado and several others in filing the 4th petition with the Supreme Court against questionable provisions of the Cybercrime Prevention Act of 2012.

MANILA, Philippines—Senator Teofisto Guingona III on Thursday called on the Supreme Court to declare as unconstitutional several provisions of Republic Act 10175 or the Cybercrime Prevention Act of 2012 because it in effect criminalizes expression of public opinion when done through information communication technology.

In a 39-page petition for certiorari and prohibition, Guingona asked the high court to stop the implementation of Sections 4 [c) 4, 5, 7 and 19 of the law and eventually nullify it for violating the 1987 Constitution.

Sec. 4 (c) [4] of the law criminalizes libel, not only on the Internet, but also on “any other similar means which may be devised in the future.”

Sec. 6 raises by one degree higher the penalties provided for by the Revised Penal Code for all crimes committed through and with the use of information and communications.

Sec. 7 provides that apart from prosecution under the assailed law, any person charged with violation of the law the offender can still be prosecuted for violations of the Revised Penal Code and other special laws.

Guingona said these laws violate the equal protection clause of the Constitution and the law against double jeopardy.

He explained that if a libel is committed by means of writing, lithography, engraving, radio, phonograph, painting, theatrical exhibition, cinematographic exhibition or other similar means as mentioned under the Revised Penal Code, it will only carry a penalty of six months and 1 day to four years.

But if the same contents are posted using information communication technology, the offense will carry a penalty of six years and 1 day to 12 years.

“This should not be allowed. A law, to be valid, must apply to all members of the same class. Persons committing libel are similarly situated, whether using a computer system or not. As such, there is no justification for the difference in the imposition of penalties under the two statues. Being unduly discriminatory to members of the same class, certainly [this] should be struck down for being violative of the constitutional guarantee against equal protection law,” Guingona’s petition stated.

He added that Section 7 also violates the rule on double jeopardy.

“If an act is punished by a law and an ordinance, conviction or acquittal under either shall constitute a bar to another prosecution for the same act.”

In this case, however, Guingona said Section 7 allows simultaneous prosecution under the Revised Penal Code

Another provision questioned by Guingona is Sec. 19, which authorizes the DOJ to block access to computer data when such data “is prima facie found to be in violation of the provisions of this Act.”

“There is no need to file a case in court, as the determination of sufficiency of evidence is vested entirely upon the Department of Justice…As a result of this overwhelming exercise of power by the DOJ, a person is effectively deprived of access to his own computer data without first being given an opportunity to be notified,” the petition stated.

Guingona compared the new law with the Anti-Money Laundering Law where, for a suspected bank account to be frozen, the order must come from a judge but in RA 10175, only the DOJ determines whether there is a need to block access to a computer data.

Under the Anti-Money Laundering Law, Guingona said freezing of a bank account by a judge is only for 20 days while under RA 10175, blocking access to a computer data is perpetual.

“Taking all these highly questionable provisions altogether, it can be reasonably expected that the general public would now be under the impression that expression of public opinion with the use of information communication technology is now already a criminal offense under the Cybercrime Act.”

“Our people, especially those in social media should not be forbidden from expressing their thoughts and opinions in cyberspace whether critical or not for fear of being labeled as cyber criminals,” the petition added.

Guingona’s petition is the fourth petition filed with the Supreme Court that sought the nullification of the same provisions of the Cybercrime Act for being unconstitutional. Source: By  : 

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