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G.R. No.

203335 FEBRUARY 11, 2014 (EN BANC)


JOSE JESUS M. DISINI, JR. vs. THE SECRETARY OF JUSTICE
FACTS:
Cyberspace, is a system that accommodates millions and billions of
simultaneous and ongoing individual accesses to and uses of the internet. The
cyberspace is a boon to the need of the current generation for greater information
and facility of communication. But all is not well with the system since it could not
filter out a number of persons of ill will who would want to use cyberspace
technology for mischiefs and crimes. For this reason, the government has a
legitimate right to regulate the use of cyberspace and contain and punish
wrongdoings, hence the Cybercrime Prevention Act.
But petitioners claim that the means adopted by the cybercrime law for
regulating undesirable cyberspace activities violate certain of their constitutional
rights. The government of course asserts that the law merely seeks to reasonably
put order into cyberspace activities, punish wrongdoings, and prevent hurtful
attacks on the system.
Petitioners challenge Section 20, alleging that it is a Bill of Attainder. The
argument is that the mere failure to comply constitutes a legislative finding of guilt,
without regard to situations where non-compliance would be reasonable or valid.
ISSUES:
WoN the Section 20 Cybercrime Law violates fundamental rights of the
people as being
a Bill of Attainder.
RULING:
No. Section 20 of the Cybercrime Law Section 20 provides:
Sec. 20. Noncompliance. Failure to comply with the provisions of
Chapter IV hereof specifically the orders from law enforcement
authorities shall be punished as a violation of Presidential Decree No.
1829 with imprisonment of prision correctional in its maximum period
or a fine of One hundred thousand pesos (Php100,000.00) or both, for
each and every noncompliance with an order issued by law
enforcement authorities.
But since the non-compliance would be punished as a violation of Presidential
Decree (P.D.) 1829, Section 20 necessarily incorporates elements of the offense
which are defined therein. If Congress had intended for Section 20 to constitute an
offense in and of itself, it would not have had to make reference to any other statue
or provision. P.D. 1829 states:

Section 1. The penalty of prision correccional in its maximum period, or a fine


ranging from 1,000 to 6,000 pesos, or both, shall be imposed upon
any person who knowingly or willfully obstructs, impedes, frustrates or
delays the apprehension of suspects and the investigation and prosecution of
criminal cases by committing any of the following acts:
Thus, the act of non-compliance, for it to be punishable, must still be done
"knowingly or willfully." There must still be a judicial determination of guilt, during
which, as the Solicitor General assumes, defense and justifications for noncompliance may be raised. Thus, Section 20 is valid insofar as it applies to the
provisions of Chapter IV which are not struck down by the Court.
The matter of fixing penalties for the commission of crimes is as a rule a
legislative prerogative. Here the legislature prescribed a measure of severe
penalties for what it regards as deleterious cybercrimes. They appear proportionate
to the evil sought to be punished. The power to determine penalties for offenses is
not diluted or improperly wielded simply because at some prior time the act or
omission was but an element of another offense or might just have been
connected with another crime.
Judges and magistrates can only interpret and apply them and have no
authority to modify or revise their range as determined by the legislative
department. The courts should not encroach on this prerogative of the lawmaking
body.