Law expert: Cyber libel, NOT a crime


In Disini vs. Secretary of Justice, G.R. No. 203335, February 11, 2014, the Supreme Court said an offender cannot be prosecuted for libel under the Revised Penal Code and cyber libel under RA No. 10175 because of the rule on double jeopardy. With due respect to the Supreme Court, cyber libel is not punishable under RA No. 10175.

Under Section 4(c)(4) of R.A. No. 10175, cybercrime punishable includes content–related offenses such as such cyber libel, which is an unlawful or prohibited act of libel as defined in Article 355 of RPC committed through a computer system or any other similar means which may be devised in the future.

The phrase “acts constitute the offense of cybercrime punishable under this Act” in Section 4(c)(4) of R.A. No. 10175 means that libel defined under Revised Penal Code committed through computer system is punishable as cyber libel under R.A. No. 10175 and not under the Revised Penal Code. Unfortunately, Section 8 of R.A. No. 10175, the penal provision of the law, fails to provide a penalty for cyber libel under Section 4(c)(4). Thus, the offender cannot be prosecuted for cyber libel under Sections 4 in relation to Section 8 of RA No. 10175. “Nullum crimen, nulla poena sine lege” (There is no crime where there is no law punishing it).

For committing libel through the internet, one should be prosecuted for libel under the Revised Penal Code.
Under Article 355 of the Revised Penal Code, libel is a defamation committed by means of writing, printing, lithography, engraving, radio, phonograph, painting, theatrical exhibition, cinematographic exhibition, or any similar means.

Television though not expressly mentioned in Article 355 easily qualifies under the general provision “or any similar means.” (People v. Casten, CA–G.R. No. 07924–CR, December 13, 1974) Since nature of internet as a means of publication is permanent, it should be considered as a means to commit libel. In Disini v. Secretary of Justice, G.R. No. 203335, February 18, 2014, the Supreme Court said cyber libel is actually not a new crime since Article 353, in relation to Article 355 of the Revised Penal Code, already punishes it. Online defamation constitutes “similar means” for committing libel.

While the offender shall be prosecuted for libel under the Revised Penal Code, the qualifying circumstance of use of information and communications technologies under Section 6 of R.A. No. 10175 shall be considered. With this qualifying circumstance, the penalty for libel under Article 355 of the Code shall be increased one degree higher.

In case of libel through the internet, the proper charge is not cyber libel under RA No. 10175, but libel under the Revised Penal Code with the qualifying circumstance of use of information and communications technologies under R.A. No. 10175.

SOURCE: CYBER LIBEL IS NOT A CRIME. MARLO CAMPANILLA. THURSDAY, FEBRUARY 14, 2019. https://www.facebook.com/notes/marlo-campanilla/cyber-libel-is-not-a-crime/2444087128944176/

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