DOJ: You can be sued for cyber libel within 12 years of publication

MANILA, Philippines – The cyber libel charges that the Department of Justice (DOJ) filed against Rappler CEO Maria Ressa now makes it possible for online publishers to be sued for the crime within 12 years of publication.

DOJ Undersecretary Markk Perete said on Thursday, February 14, that extending the liability period for libel does not constitute an attack on press freedom.

“The right of a free press does not extend to the making and/or publication of defamatory remarks. That is why in our statement we made it clear that a prosecution for libel does not result to denial of press freedom,” said Perete.

Leading cyber lawyer and Rappler counsel JJ Disini said that the DOJ’s interpretation of the Cybercrime Act has lasting impacts on “constitutionally-guaranteed rights,” and which may lead petitioners to go back to the Supreme Court to clarify the provisions of the law once more.

“There would be grounds to raise issues before the Supreme Court on particularly how the cybercrime prevention act is interpreted and how that interpretation can impact on constitutionally-protected rights,” Disini said. (READ: Maria Ressa arrest tests the bounds of Philippine cyber libel law)

Legal issues

The ordinary libel, or libel as punished by Article 355 of the Revised Penal Code (RPC), says “the crime of libel or other similar offenses shall prescribe in one year.”

It means that under the RPC, you can no longer be sued for libel one year after you publish. ..Read More..

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