ISSUE: Whether or not aiding or abetting libel on the cyberspace is constitutional.
FACTS: RA 10175 (Cybercrime Law) was enacted, which aims to regulate access to and use of the cyberspace. Petitioners filed petitions to declare several provisions of Cybercrime Law unconsitutional and void. One of the assailed provisions is Section 5, which punishes the aiding or abetting and attempt in the commission of Cybercrimes such as libel. Petitioners argue that such provision suffers from overbreadth, creating chilling and deterrent effect on protected expression. The OSG, however, contends that the current body of jurisprudence and laws on aiding and abetting sufficiently protects the freedom of expression of "netizens," the multitude that avail themselves of the services of the internet. He points out that existing laws and jurisprudence sufficiently delineate the meaning of "aiding or abetting" a crime as to protect the innocent.
RULING: When a penal statute encroaches upon the freedom of speech, a facial challenge grounded on the void-for-vagueness doctrine is acceptable. The inapplicability of the doctrine must be carefully delineated. A petitioner may for instance mount a "facial" challenge to the constitutionality of a statute even if he claims no violation of his own rights under the assailed statute where it involves free speech on grounds of overbreadth or vagueness of the statute. The rationale for this exception is to counter the "chilling effect" on protected speech that comes from statutes violating free speech. A person who does not know whether his speech constitutes a crime under an overbroad or vague law may simply restrain himself from speaking in order to avoid being charged of a crime. The overbroad or vague law thus chills him into silence. Here, the terms "aiding or abetting" constitute broad sweep that generates chilling effect on those who express themselves through cyberspace posts, comments, and other messages. Hence, Section 5 of the cybercrime law that punishes "aiding or abetting" libel on the cyberspace is a nullity.