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freedom of expression

Je Suis Charlie!

This past week saw two very serious threats to freedom of expression. The first was the worst terrorist attack in Paris, France in 50 years that left 10 journalists dead. All ten were then attending an editorial meeting of the publication Charlie Hebdo, a tabloid popular renown for its satire. Amongst the subject of its […]

Re-examining freedom of expression

I have been the foremost advocate for freedom of expression, at least in the legal profession. I have always said that this freedom is ever important for it enables us to know the truth. It also enables us to form opinions, which taken collectively, have been proven in fiscalizing governments. For instance, we now know […]

The Cybercrime Law: What’s next?

I just read media reports that the Supreme Court had just denied all pending motions for reconsideration on its earlier ruling declaring the Cybercrime Prevention Act’s provision on libel as being constitutional. As counsel for journalists Alexander Adonis, Ellen Tordesillas et al., I am of course deeply disappointed with this latest turn of events. In […]

Freedom of expression in ASEAN

(Posted in on November 6, 2013) I am in Bangkok, Thailand for training on media defense for lawyers from Cambodia, Vietnam and Burma. This is sponsored by Media Defense Southeast Asia with support from the Konrad Adenaur Stiftung and the American Bar Association Rule of Law Initiative. The prognosis is very bleak. All throughout […]

Pugad Baboy and freedom of expression

There appears to be some misunderstanding on the nature of freedom of expression lately. The trigger was a comic strip, the renowned Pugad Baboy. In the strip that invited protest from the normally nonchalant nuns of St. Scholastica’s College, a character remarked : “Galit kayo sa mga gays and lesbians pero sa mga sagrado Katolikong […]

Text of our Memorandum Against the Cybercrimes Prevention Act

REPUBLIC OF THE PHILIPPINES SUPREME COURT MANILA     ALEXANDER ADONIS, VERAFILES INCORPORATED, represented by its President, ELLEN TORDESILLAS, MA. GISELA ORDENES-CASCOLAN, H. HARRY L. ROQUE, JR., ROMEL R. BAGARES, AND GILBERT T. ANDRES, Petitioners,   -versus- G.R. No. 203378 For: Certiorari and Prohibition, with Prayer for a Preliminary Prohibitory Injunction and/ or Temporary Restraining […]

Offending religious feelings

  I did not want to write about Carlos Celdran. As a religious person myself, I found what he did—picketing and disturbing a religious event—offensive and in bad taste. I probably would have been incensed if I were one of those then worshipping at Manila Cathedral. But because public opinion, at least among netizens, appears […]

Government defends cyberlaw

It was the government’s turn last Tuesday to defend the Cybercrime Prevention Act. Solicitor-General Francis Jardeleza single handedly defended the law. The Justices grilled him for at least three and a half hours straight. Almost all of the questions of the magistrates focused on libel and Section 12 of the law, which authorizes law enforcement […]

Snippets from the oral arguments

  I asked my office to transcribe the audio file of the oral arguments against the Cybercrime Prevention Act of 2012. I’m reprinting what I consider some of the more serious questions propounded, as well as my answers to them: CJ Sereno: But I am also concerned about those who commit suicide.  Those who cannot […]

The day we defended a freedom (pix from Vera Files)

  The much-awaited day set for oral arguments against the Cybercrime Prevention Act of 2012 last Tuesday, 15 January, started very early for me. While I was tasked  a week before to bring the wide screen and the Powerpoint projector to the Supreme Court, I was only told on the same  day to set it […]


Thrust and parry on the cybercrime law In a meeting called by Justice Roberto A. Abad and held last Friday, January 4, the 15 petitioners against the constitutionality of the Cybercrime Prevention Act of 2012, with Solicitor General Francis Jardeleza also in attendance, identified the issues to be argued by specific counsels. I was designated […]

Top ten issues for human rights in 2012

Here’s my choice for the top ten most important developments for Human Rights in the Philippines for 2012: 1. Passage of the Anti-Enforced Disappearance Law. Unfortunately, the passage of this law was overshadowed by the passage of the Reproductive Health Law. I say unfortunate because unlike the RH Law which in jurisprudence says is a […]


PETITION VS CYBERCRIMES LAW AMENDED The Center for International law and the Southeast Asia Media Defense, counsels for Davao based broadcaster Alexander Adonis, amended yesterday their petition to have the recent Cybercrimes Prevention Act of 2012 declared unconstitutional. In their amended Petition, Centerlaw asked the Supreme Court to expressly declare Art. 355 of the Revised […]