Belmonte backs lighter penalties for online libel

House Speaker Feliciano ‘Sonny’ Belmonte and House committee on constitutional amendments chairman Mylene Garcia Albano listen as more arguments for and against charter change were discussed on Tuesday. PHOTO BY MIKE DE JUAN

House Speaker Feliciano ‘Sonny’ Belmonte and House committee on constitutional amendments chairman Mylene Garcia Albano listen as more arguments for and against charter change were discussed on Tuesday. PHOTO BY MIKE DE JUAN

House Speaker Feliciano Belmonte, Jr. is in favor of the online libel provisions of the Cybercrime Prevention Act of 2012 provided that the harsh penalties are stricken down.

Belmonte made the statement after the Supreme Court on Tuesday upheld the constitutionality of the Cybercrime law, including its controversial provisions on online libel.

Under the Cybercrime law, criticisms posted on social networking sites that are deemed libelous could send a person to jail for 12 years.

“I have talked to people and what has been the source of complaints is the higher penalty [for online libel]. I would say that online libel should be considered [penalized]under the Cybercrime law, but I don’t think it should have a higher penalty that what is provided [for libel]in the Revised Penal Code,” Belmonte said.

The Revised Penal Code defines libel as a public and malicious imputation of a crime, or of a vice or defect, real or imaginary, or any act, omission, condition, status or circumstance tending to discredit or cause the dishonor or contempt of a person.

Under the Revised Penal Code, the penalty for libel ranges from P200 to P6,000 in addition to imprisonment of from six months to six years.

But Rep. Terry Ridon of the Kabataan party-list — one of the groups that lodged a petition questioning the legality of the Cybercrime law — said the Supreme Court’s ruling on online libel impedes the people’s civil liberties on the internet.

“The upholding of the provision for online libel poses imminent threats to many content creators. Libel in itself has been abused for so many years to harass and malign journalists. What’s stopping cunning individuals from exploiting the new online libel provision? I see none,” said Ridon, who served as legal counsel in one of the 15 petitions assailing the Cybercrime law.

“The fight against e-Martial Law is far from over. We call on everyone to up the ante and once again show our collective dissent against this repressive law,” Ridon said.

“While the high court reportedly aimed to strike a balance between the protection of civil liberties and government control, we still believe that the law is potent enough to impede our freedom of expression. It is lamentable that we now have a set of firm restrictions over cyber activity, yet we do not have a law that lays down the rights of internet users,” Ridon added.


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  1. Papayag ka ba na hadlangan ang iyong karapatan sa malayang pamamahayag ng Anti Cyber Crime Law.Malinaw na paglabag sa karapatang magpahayag ng saloobin ang batas na ito.Nasa demokratikong bansa tayo kaya may karapatan tayo sa Freedom of Expression.Ang Cyber Crime Law ay batas lamang na protektor ng mga tiwaling pulitiko sa ating bansa.Kaya isinama sa probisyon ang nilalaman ng Section 4 na kung tawagin ay Online Libel.Paano kung galit ang taong bayan sa gobyerno dahil sa mga katiwaliang nagaganap? Wala na bang karaptan ang mga mamamayan na magalit sa pamahalaan dahil sa mga bulok na sistema sa ating bansa? Tulad ng Martial Law ang batas na ito na kung saan walang karapatan ang bawat isa na magsalita ng kanilang nalalaman sa pamahalaan.Dahil sa pagpasa ng batas na ito ay malinaw na nalabag ang ating karaptang mamahayag at ipaglaban ang ating mga paninindigan sa pamamagitan ng paggamit ng internet.Sino ba ang mga may akda ng batas na ito? Hindi ba ang mga taong piang-uusig din ng batas dahil sa kanilang mga kasalanan sa bayan.Ang pangungupya ng isang mambabatas ng talumpati ay isang paglabag at paglapastangan sa sa dignbidad ng tunay na may akda ng talumpati kaya naisip niyang gumawa ng isang batas na magiging protektor niya sa mga taong bumabatikos sa kanya.Bakit hindi pagtuunan ng gobyerno ang pagpasa ng Freedom of Information bill kaysa sa batas na tinatapakan ang karaptatan ng karamihan.Bilang isang blogger ay nahigpit ang pagtutol ko sa batas na ito kaya hinihimok ko ang karamihan na lumahok sa mga kilos protesta upang ibasura ang batas na proektor ng mga tiwaling opisyal ng gobyerno.

  2. Libel law has been outlawed in many societies and countries of global proportions – but there in the good old RP where impunity, social influence/clout, business standing, political bearings is a badge in buying your way out of judicial processes – this cyber libel law is another tool to stymie the truth in coming out – to cow the poor into further submission, and silence. The Elite Class, the anointed social class who are endowed by the gods to govern and manage the affairs of the nation, and by that same token anointment from high heavens are licensed to steal from the same governmental coffers – hereby declare that by the powers vested upon me, from the very same people these powers I am wielding emanates – are warning you people – to cease and desist from my daily political and personal business which are heavily intertwined viz-a-viz…

  3. For a grizzled, institutionalized and traditional veteran of politics – these so called lawmakers and lawbreakers in one clothing, depending on what contrasting hues of environmental color these greedy chameleons would adapt and mask themselves – thus the scrutinizing public could hardly discern which is which – who is hiding something in his immunity closet – the dark secrets of magical thievery is perpetrated – and VOILA!!!! You, Juan and Pedro whose sole intent and mission is to unearth the anomalous chicaneries These so called Legislators, Politicos, Government Officials, and Local Gov’t officials in collusion with Private businesses and power broker Individuals whose connections to HIGH HEAVENS is their sole ticket – the poor journalists and concerned citizen is SLAP with a cyber suit, for malicious item.
    Of course, we do NOT condone the usual hallow, empty and made up items for the sole purpose of maliciously destroying an individual’s reputation.

    In any court of law, anything made up from one heap of lies to another heap of imaginary facts woven as evidence will not stand up to the test of real scrutiny, – while FACTUAL evidences based on records, paper trails, money trails, circumstantial facts beyond reasonable doubt that will tie up the accused will certainly get a conviction – with a Caveat – the courts are anywhere other than Philippine Courts. Politicos, Big Businesses, Power Broker Individuals could buy their way out
    by big bucks money- here in the good Philippine system of Judicial Courts.