DOJ welcomes President Aquino's stance on possible decriminalization of libel

October 18, 2012 10:07 pm 

By Perfecto T. Raymundo Jr.

MANILA, Oct. 18 — Department of Justice Secretary Leila M. De Lima has said she is very pleased to hear about the stance taken by President Benigno S. Aquino III on the possibility of decriminalizing libel.

De Lima just arrived Thursday from Geneva, Switzerland, where she headed the Philippine delegation that presented the country's 4th Periodic Report on the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) before the United Nations Human Rights Committee (UNHRC).

"The President's declared receptiveness to the proposal to decriminalize libel is a very welcome development," De Lima said.

"The members of the UNHRC and the panel of international experts who evaluated the Philippines' Periodic Report on the ICCPR displayed considerable knowledge about the current issues affecting the exercise of civil and political rights in our country, and they showed very keen interest on the issues surrounding the recent passage of the Cybercrime Law," she added.

President Aquino signed into law Republic Act No. 10175, otherwise known as the "Cybercrime Prevention Act of 2012," on Sept. 12, 2012 and it took effect on Oct. 3, 2012.

However, the Supreme Court issued a 120-day temporary restraining order (TRO) stopping the implementation of the Cybercrime Law after 15 petitions have been filed before the SC questioning some provisions of the law.

De Lima also welcomed the recent passage by both Houses of Congress of the Anti-Enforced Disappearance Bill, which seeks to define and punish the crime of enforced disappearance as a distinct criminal offense.

According to De Lima, the bill, which hopefully will be transmitted to the Office of the President for signature soon, is potentially the first of its kind in Asia and would undoubtedly be hailed as a victory by those who have, for decades, advocated for its passage, including the families of so-called "desaparecidos" who have been missing since the Martial Law period.

"By imposing the maximum penalty of reclusion perpetua, and by providing for the entitlement of victims and their kin to compensation, restitution and rehabilitation, this law shall serve as a recognition of the injury and torment that victims and families of desaparecidos are subjected to, bearing in mind that enforced disappearance is undoubtedly one of the worst forms of human rights violations," De Lima said.

"We can be assured of the full support and approval from human rights advocates and experts, particularly those from the UNHCR, which has long been following up on the progress of legislative measures such as this," she added. (PNA)

SCS/PTR

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