“The Court will only have itself to blame if the International Community condemns its Decision on the Cyber Crime Prevention Law as contrary to Human Rights”
(CENTERLAW Statement on the Supreme Court’s Decision to Dismiss the Motions for Reconsideration Against the Constitutionality of Cyber Libel)
Ref: Prof H. Harry L. Roque, Jr.
The Center for International Law (CenterLaw), counsel for newsmen Alexander Adonis, Ellen Tordesillas et al. expresses its disappointment over the Supreme Court’s decision to dismiss all pending motions for reconsideration of its earlier decision declaring libel in cyberspace as being constitutional.
CenterLaw believes that this latest decision is an affront anew on freedom of expression and is a blatant disregard of the view expressed by the UN Human Rights Committee (UNHRC) declaring criminal libel in the Philippines as being incompatible with freedom of expression.
As a result, more journalists face the possibility of spending time in jail for exercising their freedom of expression. Again, this is a violation of Art. 19 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) and should be condemned vigorously.
In Adonis vs. Republic of the Philippines, the UN Human Rights Committee declared that criminal libel under the Revised Penal law is contrary to Freedom of Expression under Article 19 of the ICCPR because it is not necessary, the alterative being civil libel; and that imprisonment is not proportionate to the means sought to be enforced by the law, which is the protection of the right to privacy of private individuals.
Be that as it may, as all domestic remedies have been exhausted with the denial of the motions for reconsideration, CenterLaw will again submit a communication with the UN Human Rights Committee to complain that instead of taking steps to avoid incarceration of journalists for criminal libel and prevent similar violations occurring in the future, including the review of relevant libel legislation, the Philippines instead breached its state obligation with the recent decision upholding the constitutionality of libel in the cyberspace.
“We gave our Courts the opportunity to avoid the spectacle of another view deploring the Court’s misapprehension of human rights law. It will only have itself to blame if its latest decision is condemned by the international human rights community as a violation of human rights law. If this happens, the Philippines will be subjected to the embarrassment of being in breach of a treaty obligation”, declared UP Law Professor Harry Roque, Chair of the CenterLaw.
Furthermore, the Philippines has also not complied with the view that journalist Alexander Adonis should be paid compensation for the one-year imprisonment he served for his conviction for libel.