Last October 9, 2012, Justice Assistant Secretary Geronimo Sy went out of his way to mention me by name in his media briefing about the Cybercrime Prevention Act; he also mentioned what I said about cyber adultery.
Before that briefing, I’d written a piece called “The Cybercrime Law was brought to you by 7 senators & 12 congressmen”. Here’s the link to my article where I criticized Section 6 of the Cybercrime Prevention Act which not only CRAMMED the entire Penal Code and all special laws within the ambit of the Cybercrime Law. It also raised the punishment one degree higher.
Here is the section I questioned:
SEC. 6. All crimes defined and penalized by the Revised Penal Code, as amended, and special laws, if committed by, through and with the use of information and communications technologies shall be covered by the relevant provisions of this Act: Provided, That the penalty to be imposed shall be one (1) degree higher than that provided for by the Revised Penal Code, as amended, and special laws, as the case may be.
In addition, the next section makes the accused liable as well for violating the present Penal Code:
SEC. 7. Liability under Other Laws. — A prosecution under this Act shall be without prejudice to any liability for violation of any provision of the Revised Penal Code, as amended, or special laws.
In that article, I had interviewed Congressman Teddy Casiño – who had voted “yes” to the House version of the Cybercrime Law. I told him my apprehension about the law and gave him the crime of adultery as an example. Here’s what I wrote:
“For instance, I told him (Casiño), if a woman commits adultery using a computer, she would be guilty of a cybercrime and her penalty would be one degree higher.”
To use my previous example of the case of the woman accused of adultery, because of Section 6, if a married woman’s e-mail to her lover were submitted as evidence, her penalty if convicted automatically becomes one degree higher.”
This is what Assec Sy said in his lengthy October briefing about what I wrote:
To quote Assec Sy in this video:
“Pause for a minute. And with all due respect to Raissa, can you help me think of a scenario when adultery can be committed with a – through the computer.
I had a nightmare last night. I said, how can I answer this provision. In what instance can I commit adultery over a computer.
Seriously, I can’t think of any situation where adultery can be committed through a – with a computer, maybe. But not through a computer. OK?
But the whole point is, we have to be very careful of this. I mean as I said I respect Raissa and all of that, but, the question is, she might have been confusing the mode of proving adultery – electronic evidence – e-mail – versus the fact of adultery.
Two separate things. No two separate prosecutions. Definitely no higher cyber-adultery. No higher cyber-adultery, definitely. I can say that.
There is in law what we call the factum probandum and factum probans. For the lawyers here, two different things. Sounds like, looks similar, totally different.
So with all due respect, let’s be careful in blogging because when lay person reads it, it creates another chilling effect or whatever it’s called. Let’s have a seasoned debate, a very clear debate on what it’s all about. So far, so good?
Assec Sy is probably busy right now feverishly trying to prepare explanations for why there’s no “chilling effect” to the multitudes who’ve expressed outrage about the cybercrime law (which seems to be primarily Sy’s handiwork). But at any rate, I will now belatedly answer his remarks.
Dear Atty Sy, if cyber adultery doesn’t exist, why is it listed?
Let’s just assume, as Sy claims, that one cannot commit adultery using a computer or any other technological device.
If this is the case, then why is the crime of adultery even included in the Cybercrime Prevention Act?
Besides adultery, what other crimes in our Penal Code and special laws cannot be committed “by, through and with the use of information and communications technologies?” Who is supposed to sift through these hundreds of laws to find out?
Remember, the entire Penal Code and all special laws were CRAMMED into the Cybercrime Law through Section 6. It states that -
“All crimes defined and penalized by the Revised Penal Code, as amended, and special laws, if committed by, through and with the use of information and communications technologies shall be covered.”
Remember, it was Assec Sy himself who had drafted the Cybercrime Prevention Act, which the senators virtually adopted as theirs except for some insertions such as Senator Vicente Sotto’s online libel.
Under the principle of statutory construction, when a section states “all crimes”, it means all crimes without exception, for as long as these are “committed by, through and with the use of information and communications technologies.”
Who is now to determine whether a certain crime cannot be “committed by, through and with the use of information and communications technologies?”
This, I believe, is what the make the present Cybercrime Law so dangerous because it is so vague and so broad in scope. It leaves too much to court interpretation. One highly-placed official I talked to calls Assec Sy a “favorite fascist.” It gives an idea of the mindset the Cybercrime Prevention Law comes from.
That’s why it will give the average law-abiding Filipino nightmares.
Does cyber adultery exist?