Press Release
October 9, 2012

Transcript of Sen. Santiago's interview

On the TRO issued against the Cybercrime Prevention Act

It is said to be a 120-day TRO. In lower courts there is always a certain lifetime for a TRO but generally, when it reaches the Supreme Court, there is no time limit unless the Supreme Court sets a limit. That's basically four months, and it might last until after the oral arguments have been heard. That should be about January of next year. So this will be a contest, a competition between the decision of the Supreme Court and the amended law, which we hope to produce here. We are relying on the decision of the Supreme Court because number one, this is a landmark tradition. It will concern the right of free speech in the digital age. Number two, it will be a landmark decision because it will give the Supreme Court the opportunity to explain why "free speech" occupies a so-called preferred position in our Constitution. What is the meaning of preferred position? This refers that there are many civil and political rights that are protected in our Bill of Rights. The question is, what does the Supreme Court mean when it says that speech occupies a preferred position? As a general rule, every law passed by Congress enjoys the presumption of constitutionality. This case gives the Supreme Court the opportunity to underline the fact that whenever a law passed by Congress seeks to limit free speech, there is no presumption of constitutionality. I even hold the extreme position that a law, such as the Cybercrime Prevention Act, should be presumed unconstitutional. That is the meaning of speech enjoys a preferred position. The third landmark characteristic of this case is, ... (interview was truncated due to technical problems)

On the provisions of the Cybercrime Prevention Act

Those that are facilitated by the computers generally result in what are called fraud and identity theft. We have had to invent an entire vocabulary about crimes committed on the Internet. For example, crimes such as pharming, meaning to say, when someone sends a message, you are able to redirect the message to somewhere else, maybe to your own website. And then after that, there is a crime called spoofing, meaning to say you make the receiver believe that it came from somebody else other than yourself when you're actually the person sending it. There is also a crime called phishing, meaning to say, you make the person believe that it comes from another source. There is also spear phishing. There are also maladjustive gangs, who pretend to be financial institutions so they can draw out information about your financial situation. There are also (a) so-called (crime, which is) malvertising. They pretend to be so-called online legal advertising but they will actually draw you into a fraudulent website. Or even pretexting, (which means) just having a false email address, having a false website and so on. So we have this new vocabulary coming out, and this will give the Supreme Court an opportunity to define what these cases are.

In any event, the TRO is always a minor victory. It is always reason to hope that the final decision will be as indicated in the TRO, meaning to say, that the Cybercrime Prevention Act will be declared unconstitutional by the Supreme Court. What a relief! This may even be a template for other developing countries that are grappling with the new phenomenon of digital communication.

My position is that because there are so many invalid provisions there, from my humble point of view, it is better for the Supreme Court to strike down the entire law so that Congress will not have the duty of amending certain provisions in part or in whole and thus producing a disjointed bill. The Supreme Court sometimes does that when there are so many provisions in a certain bill or in a certain law that it considers unconstitutional or questionable, it will declare the entire law to be unconstitutional.

This will be a very, very auspicious case for us.

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