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June 01, 2015

Philippine Lawyers Attend Training on Internet Freedom

June 2015

From March 5 to 8, the ABA Rule of Law Initiative (ABA ROLI), in cooperation with the Center for International Law (CenterLaw), conducted a workshop on Internet freedom for 20 lawyers from across the Philippines. Held in Tagaytay City, Luzon, the workshop was designed to build the capacity of lawyers to represent clients in cases involving Internet freedom.

ABA ROLI and CenterLaw organized the training in response to a growing need to challenge restrictions and advocate for legal protections of online freedoms both in the Philippines and across Southeast Asia. CenterLaw is a Manila-based advocacy group that works for the recognition and application of international norms in Philippine law, in particular those relating to human rights and humanitarian law, and freedom of expression.

Arturo Carrillo, professor of law at George Washington University Law School, led sessions on international standards and principles related to Internet freedom, online expression, privacy and surveillance, as well as strategic litigation. Professor Harry Roque, Jr. and other experts from CenterLaw provided insights into the Philippine legal framework and discussed issues with existing legislation and enforcement. Throughout the workshop, participants shared their experiences with laws and policies related to online freedom, including lawyers’ partially successful constitutional challenge to the 2012 Cybercrime Prevention Act. The challenge targeted five sections of the cybercrime law. In February 2014, the Supreme Court struck down several provisions while the most contentious one—providing for up to eight years of imprisonment for online libel—was upheld. The workshop included interactive activities, such as small group discussions and case studies, as well as breakout sessions to identify strategies for defending Internet freedom. Participants suggested a variety of approaches, including further training, legal reform, and media and public awareness activities.

“Participants found sessions on strategic litigation and international principles very useful,” said Mark Wallem, director of ABA ROLI’s regional Internet freedom program. “These tools will strengthen the persuasiveness of legal advocacy for Internet freedom in both the Philippines and the region.”

To learn more about our Internet Freedom Program, contact the ABA Rule of Law Initiative at [email protected].

To learn more about our work in the Philippines, contact the ABA Rule of Law Initiative at [email protected].