Youth group to file petition for prohibition in SC, ‘Internet Freedom Bill’ in Congress

KABATAAN Partylist, the youth group that led the criticism against the dangers of Republic Act 10175 or the Cybercrime Prevention Act of 2012, is set to file a “back-to-back legal offensive” against the dreaded law, with a petition for prohibition set to be filed in the Supreme Court and an “Internet Freedom Bill” which seeks to repeal RA 10175 to be filed in the Lower House tomorrow.

Though a couple of petitions have already been filed in the Supreme Court calling for a temporary restraining order (TRO) on the implementation of RA 10175, Kabataan Partylist will also file a petition for prohibition in the high court on Monday, with youth groups, students, alternative media practitioners, and academics as main petitioners.

“Our petition will mainly revolve on the issues of the inclusion of online libel, enforcement of the law, and due process. We will show in particular how this new law could potentially abridge the youth’s freedom of expression,” Ridon said.

An initial list of signatories on the said petition includes Palatino, ACT Teachers Partylist Rep. Antonio Tinio, UP Student Regent Cleve Arguelles, Philippine Collegian Editor-in-Chief Katherine Elona, and UP College of Mass Communication Dean Roland Tolentino.

Meanwhile, Palatino is also set to file on Monday an “Internet Freedom Bill” in Congress, which will effectively repeal contentious provisions in RA 10175 and enumerate the rights of netizens.
“If we analyze the Cybercrime Law, it is apparent that it restricts rather than protect netizens. Apart from repealing RA 10175 through the Internet Freedom Bill, we intend to lay down the inalienable rights of Filipino Internet users,” Palatino said.
Last July, the United Nations Human Rights Council unanimously approved a resolution which added Internet access and online freedom of expression to the list of basic human rights.

“With the Internet Freedom Bill, we seek to assert this right, and ensure that the Internet is free from censorship and totalitarian suppression,” Palatino said.

Online petition drawing attention

Various online petitions have already been set up against RA 10175. One online petition started by Kabataan Partylist, which calls for the outright junking of the new law, has reached over 13,000 signatories.

“We, the youth, students, journalists, activists, bloggers, and netizens of the Philippines express our outright condemnation to the passage of the Cybercrime Prevention Act of 2012, which poses serious threats to Internet freedom, the right to privacy and other essential civil liberties including the freedom of speech, expression, and the press,” the petition read.

“The right to speak one’s mind, to share opinions and initiate discussion and debate is essential. I agree that there is a necessity to combat cybercrime and Internet-related offenses – but I cannot agree with a law that is proposing online censorship and violates civil liberties,” said netizen Noelle Pico, one of the signatories to the online petition.

“We’re in a democratic country with the privilege for freedom of speech and freedom for the use of Internet. I don’t want the government to take it away from me,” netizen Marielle Rosal added.

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