Rights activists and media groups protested outside the Supreme Court last week. (Photo by Rene Sandajan)
The Supreme Court today suspended the controversial Cybercrime Prevention Act after 15 different petitions were filed.
After deliberation, justices of the court unanimously issued a temporary restraining order (TRO) on the law, which has been in place for less than a week.
Opposition to the new law focused mainly on a provision on libel that covered all platforms, including Facebook, Twitter and other social media sites.
Press freedom advocates and activists branded the law a threat to the right to free expression, which is enshrined in the constitution.
Raymond Palatino of the Youth Party said the TRO is an opportunity for the government to retract its hardline position on the issue.
"We now have tangible proof that several provisions are unconstitutional and post threats to our countrymen’s civil liberties,” he said.
"The issuance of a TRO is also a cue for Congress leadership to expedite the processing of repeal bills now filed in both chambers," said Palatino, one of the petitioners against the law before the Supreme Court.
The presidential palace stressed that the TRO was a "provisional remedy" and not a judgment on the law's merits.
"The administration will always respect the legal processes that are issued by the court," said spokesperson Abigail Valte.
New York-based Human Rights Watch commended the Supreme Court for stopping the implementation of the law.
"The court should now go further by striking down this seriously flawed law," Asia director Brad Adams said in a statement.
"All provisions in Philippine law that allow for imprisonment for peaceful expression should be repealed," he said.
After the ruling, a hacker group that earlier attacked government websites in protest said it would not let down its guard.
"Let's see how things go. Things can still change. It is just a TRO," Anonymous Pilipinas said in a message on its Twitter account, adding it will continue watching authorities for efforts to curtail the rights to freedom of speech and expression.
"We must keep fighting the good fight!" it said.
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