Online Defamation as a Cybercrime in the Philippines: Definition, Requirements and Penalties » Philippine e-Legal Forum (2023)

The crime of defamation is defined and punished in the Philippines in Article 353 (“Definition of Defamation”) in conjunction with Article 355 (“Defamation by letter or similar means”) of the Revised Penal Code (“PRC”). It has been debated whether the "publication" required in defamation covers the Internet, which did not exist at the time the RPC was enacted. This debate was resolved with the publication of Law of the Republic (“R.A.”) No. 10.175, also known as the LawCyber ​​Crime Prevention Act 2012🇧🇷 This article covers the definition, elements/requirements and penalties that apply to online defamation.

Online Defamation as a Cybercrime in the Philippines: Definition, Requirements and Penalties » Philippine e-Legal Forum (1)

Definition of defamation

Criminal libel is defined as the public and malicious accusation of a crime or vice or defect, real or imaginary, or any act, omission, condition, condition or circumstance tending to dishonor, discredit or despise any person or entity blacken the memory of a deceased.


ÖCyber ​​Crime Prevention Act 2012defines and punishes cyber crime, divided into three main categories:

  • (one)System- related crimes, namely illegal access, illegal wiretapping, data intrusion, system intrusion, device misuse and cyber-squatting;
  • (b)Computer-related offences, d. H. counterfeiting, fraud and identity theft; and
  • (c)satisfiedrelated crimes, d. H. Cybersex, child pornography anddefamation.

It is interesting that theImplementing Rules and Regulations (IRR) of RA 10175provides a different way of classifying cybercrimes, as follows:

  • (one)cyber crimeunder Section 4, also referred to as "Core Cybercrime". The IRR follows the "Cyber ​​Crimes" classifications under R.A. 10175, with the notable downgrading of cyber-squatting, cybersex and defamation to “Other cybercrimes”.
  • (b)Other Cybercrimein Section 5: (a) cyber squatting; (b) cybersex; (c) defamation; and (d) other criminal offenses, including complicity in the commission of cybercrime and attempted commission of cybercrime.

On the other hand, the jurisprudence of the Supreme CourtCybercrime Arrest Warrants Rulecategorizes cybercrime for the purpose of determining forum as follows:

  • (a) Cybercrime under Section 4 of theRA 10175and other offenses under Section 5 hereof; and
  • (b) pursuant to Section 6 of theRA 10175, any crime defined and punishable in other laws when committed by, through and with the use of information and communication technology or ICT.


As set out in Section 4(c)(4) ofRA 10175, online defamation is “[the] unlawful or prohibited acts of defamation within the meaning of Article 355 of the Revised Criminal Code, as amended, committed through a computer system or other similar means that may be developed in the future”. The crime is referred to simply as "slander."RA 10175.

To distinguish it from defamation committed in traditional ways, it is appropriately referred to as "online defamation" (although it is sometimes also referred to as cyber defamation, internet defamation, or electronic defamation). Online defamation has been challenged as unconstitutional. However, the Supreme Court concluded that online defamation underRA 10175is valid and not unconstitutional, with the proviso that online defamation does not capture those who simply receive and respond to the post (those who click 'like', 'comment' and 'share'). However, if the "comment" not only reacts to the original post, but creates a whole new story of defamation, then this is to be regarded as a post originally published on the Internet.



ÖCyber ​​Crime Prevention Act 2012provides that “an indictment under this Act shall not affect liability for violation of any provision of the Revised Criminal Code, as amended, or any special statute” (Section 7). In a later case, the Supreme Court stated that future determination of the applicability of Section 7 would be left to actual cases.

However, the Supreme Court stated that there could not be two claims for defamation under the RPC and online defamation under the RPCRA 10175, as this is a violation of the double jeopardy ban. If material published in print and deemed defamatory is republished online, or vice versa, that identical material cannot be the subject of two separate charges of defamation. The two offenses, one an RPC violation and the other aRA 10175essentially contain the same elements and are in fact one and the same crime. Online defamation refers to the medium of publication - via the computer system.


Online defamation is simply defamation in the traditional sense, committed through a computer system or other similar means that might be developed in the future. In other words, the traditional defamation elements or requirements still apply. For an allegation as defamatory within the meaning of Art. 353 of the RPC,the following requirements must be met: (a) be defamatory; (b) must be malicious; (c) must receive advertising; and (d) the victim must be identifiable.

A fifth element or requirement is defined in R.A. 10.175 for online defamation: the act must be committed through a computer system or other similar means that may be developed in the future.


A complaint will be considereddefamatoryto attribute to any person the commission of a crime, the possession of any vice or defect, real or imagined, or any act, omission, condition, condition or circumstance tending to dishonor or discredit or bring him into contempt, or to tend to obscure the memory of a deceased.

In determining whether a claim existsdefamatory,The words used are to be interpreted in their entirety and are to be understood in their simple, natural, ordinary meaning as they would naturally be understood by persons reading them, unless they appear to be used in a different sense and were understood.

In addition, an accusation is sufficient if the words are sufficient to cause a listener to believe and understand that the person or persons against whom they are spoken are guilty of a specific criminal offense or are sufficient to imply the honesty, to question the virtue or reputation or to preserve the person or to publicly ridicule persons.


maliceconnotes malice or resentment, speaks not of duty but only of damaging the slandered person's reputation, and implies intent to cause further and unjustified harm. Malice is evil intent or motive. It is the essence of the crime of defamation.

(Video) Cyber Crime Law with Atty. Bernice Aberin

If the victim is a private individual, the public prosecutor does not need to prove intent. The law expressly presumes its existence (maliciousness) from the defamatory nature of the impugned statement. In his defence, the accused must show that he has a legitimate reason for the defamatory statement, even if it is in fact true.

"Actual malice," or even malice, occurs when the perpetrator makes the slanderous statement knowing that it is false or with frivolous disregard for whether or not it was false. The standard of reckless disregard used here requires a high level of awareness of likely untruths. There must be sufficient evidence that allows the conclusion that the accused actually had serious doubts about the truthfulness of the statement he published. Gross or even gross negligence is not sufficient to prove genuine fraudulent intent.

The public prosecutor bears the burden of proving the existence of actual intent in cases where such an element is necessary to establish guilt. The plea of ​​lack of actual intent, even if the statement turns out to be false, is possible if the victim is a public official or public figure. Since the Criminal Code and, by implication, the Cybercrime Act are aimed primarily at defaming individuals, the Supreme Court recognizes that these laws imply a stricter standard of "dolus" to convict the originator of a defamatory statement in which the offended Party one is a public figure. The interest of society and the maintenance of good government require a thorough discussion of public affairs.


There arepublicationif the material is passed on to third parties. It is not required that the person being defamed has read or heard of the defamatory comment. What matters is that a third party read or heard the defamatory statement, for a person's reputation is the esteem others have of them, not the good opinion they have of themselves.

Simply put, publication in libel means making the defamatory matter known, once written, to someone other than the person against whom it was written. This is because, although it may hurt their self-esteem, communicating the defamatory matter to the person being defamed cannot damage their reputation. A man's reputation is not the good opinion he has of himself, but the esteem that others have of him.


On the other hand, to satisfy the element ofidentifiability,it must be proven that at least a third party or an outsider could identify him as the subject of the defamatory statement. It is sufficient that the allusion is obvious by intrinsic reference or that the publication contains information describing or referring to facts and circumstances from which other readers of the article know the person alluded to; or when the latter is pointed out by strange circumstances so that those who know that person can understand and have understood that it is the person mentioned.

In order to determine the meaning of an allegedly defamatory publication, "that construction must be adopted which gives the matter a natural and evident meaning in the simple and ordinary sense in which the public would naturally understand what was uttered . The allegedly libelous published material must be interpreted as a whole. In applying these rules to the language of alleged defamation, the court will ignore any subtle or sophisticated explanation by the publisher when held accountable. The whole question is the effect the publication had on the minds of the readers and since the explanation did not help them in reading the article it is too late to remove the sting, if any, of the word used in the article.


As mentioned above, cybercrime is commonly referred to as online defamation in the traditional sense and is committed by acomputer systemor other similar means that may be developed in the future.

(Video) Lesson 9: Cybercrime

A “computer system” is defined inRA 10175as “any interconnected or related device or group of devices, one or more of which, in accordance with a program, perform automated data processing. Covers any type of device with data processing capabilities, including but not limited to computers and mobile phones. The device consisting of hardware and software may include input, output, and storage components that may be stand-alone or connected to a network or other similar devices. Also includes computer data storage devices or media.” OCybercrime Arrest Warrants Rulehas a shorter definition: A computer system refers to any interconnected or related device or group of devices, one or more of which performs automated data processing according to a program.


The Supreme Court upheld the policy contained thereinAdministrative Circular No. 08-08, which provides guidelines for the imposition of penalties in cases of defamation. He offers:

  • 1. This Administrative Circular does not eliminate imprisonment as an alternative punishment for the crime of defamation under Article 355 of the Revised Penal Code;
  • 2. The judges involved may, at their best discretion and taking into account the particular circumstances of each case, decide whether the imposition of a fine alone serves the interests of the judiciary better or whether waiving the imposition of a custodial sentence would reduce the severity of the offence, violence against exercise social order or otherwise violate the dictates of justice;
  • 3. If only one fine is imposed and the defendant is unable to pay the fine, there is no legal impediment to imposing the fineRevised Penal CodeProvisions on subsidiary imprisonment.

The Supreme Court clarified that theCircularit does not deprive the courts of the power to sentence the accused in defamation cases to imprisonment when the circumstances so warrant. In other words, court practice holds that a fine alone is generally acceptable as a punishment for defamation. However, the courts can impose imprisonment as a penalty if the fine is insufficient in the circumstances to satisfy the requirements of substantive justice or to lessen the seriousness of the offence.

[See courtdecisionin the online defamation trial against Maria Ressa and Rappler. Sources/Citation: Manila Bulletin Publishing Corporation vs. Manila Bulletin Publishing Corporation Domingo, G.R. Wann. 170341, July 5, 2017; Disney v. Attorney General of New York, G.R. When. 203335, February 11, 2014; Annex Visit vs. State of Appeal. folks, G.R. When. 194214, January 10th

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What is the punishment of defamation in the Philippines? ›

358. Slander. — Oral defamation shall be punished by arresto mayor in its maximum period to prision correccional in its minimum period if it is of a serious and insulting nature; otherwise the penalty shall be arresto menor or a fine not exceeding 200 pesos".

What cybercrime deals with an online defamation? ›

Cyber libel is libel committed through the internet or a computer system or through the use of information and communications technologies (ICTs) or any other similar means. RA 10175 only increased or upgraded the penalty but how libel is committed is still based on the provisions of the RPC.

What is the penalty for cyber libel in the Philippines? ›

The Manila RTC cited Act 3326, which states that violations penalized by special laws, like the cybercrime law, which do not provide for their own prescription period shall prescribe in 12 years if the offense is punishable by imprisonment of at least six years.

What is online defamation? ›

Internet defamation generally involves the online publication of a false statement of fact that is harmful to one's reputation. There may be some exceptions or additional elements of showing malice where the plaintiff is a public figure.

Can you sue someone for defamation in the Philippines? ›

Philippines Criminal Defamation

Article 358 of the Philippines Revised Penal Code allows for criminal defamation, which means people found guilt of the offense can find themselves behind bars. Depending on the circumstances, plaintiffs can file both civil and criminal defamation charges over the same event.

What are the grounds for a defamation lawsuit Philippines? ›

Instead of falsity, Philippine law only requires that the imputation be both defamatory and malicious. An allegation is considered defamatory if it ascribes to a person the commission of a crime, the possession of a vice or defect, or any act, omission, or condition which tends to dishonor or discredit him.

How can I prove cyber libel in the Philippines? ›

Elements of Cyber Libel

There must be an imputation of a crime, or of a vice or defect, real or imaginary, or any act, omission, condition, status, or circumstance.

What are the two types of cyber defamation? ›

Defamation is a tort that encompasses the publication of false statements which subsequently harm someone's reputation. There are two types of defamation depending on the medium of publication- libel (in permanent form) and slander (in transient form).

What are the 5 elements of defamation? ›

What Are The 5 Elements Of Defamation?
  • Publication Of Information Is Required. ...
  • The Person Being Defamed Was Identified By The Statement. ...
  • The Remarks Had A Negative Impact On The Person's Reputation. ...
  • The Published Information Is Demonstrably False. ...
  • The Defendant Is At Fault.
Apr 4, 2022

How long do you go to jail for slander in the Philippines? ›

The sentence there is for an indeterminate period ranging from 4 months and 1 day of arresto mayor, as minimum, to 1 year and 8 months of prision correccional, as maximum. The penalty for grave oral defamation is arresto mayor, maximum, to prision correccional, minimum.

Is cyber libel bailable in Philippines? ›

Under Philippine law, cyber libel is a bailable criminal offense, allowing Ressa and Santos to remain free pending the Supreme Court ruling.

What is considered cyber libel in the Philippines? ›

Cyber-libel is a term used when someone has posted or emailed something that is untrue and damaging about someone else on the Internet, including in message boards, bulletin boards, blogs, chat rooms, personal websites, social media, social networking sites, or other published articles.

How do you prove slander in the Philippines? ›

In order to successfully lodge a case for slander, the following elements must be proven:
  1. There is an imputation of a crime, vice, defect, act, omission, condition, status or circumstance.
  2. The imputation is made publicly.
  3. The imputation must be made maliciously.
Jun 11, 2019

How much is a libel case worth in Philippines? ›

— A libel committed by means of writing, printing, lithography, engraving, radio, phonograph, painting, theatrical exhibition, cinematographic exhibition, or any similar means, shall be punished by prisión correccional in its minimum and medium periods or a fine ranging from 200 to 6,000 pesos, or both, in addition to ...

What four elements must be proven to establish defamation? ›

To prove prima facie defamation, a plaintiff must show four things: 1) a false statement purporting to be fact; 2) publication or communication of that statement to a third person; 3) fault amounting to at least negligence; and 4) damages, or some harm caused to the reputation of the person or entity who is the subject ...

What elements must be established to successfully sue for defamation? ›

The plaintiff claiming defamation must establish the following three elements:
  • Defamatory meaning of the communication itself. The words must be defamatory, in the sense that they would tend to lower the plaintiff's reputation in the eyes of a reasonable person.
  • Reference to the plaintiff. ...
  • Publication of the communication.

What requirements are needed to bring a successful action in defamation? ›

To succeed in an action for defamation, the Plaintiff has to prove that the alleged defamatory statement refers to the Plaintiff. Whether reasonable persons who know the plaintiff would conclude that the defamatory words refer to him or her.

Who investigates cybercrime in Philippines? ›

Republic Act No. 10175 or the Cybercrime Prevention Act of 2012 created the Office of Cybercrime (OOC) within the DOJ and designated it as the Central Authority in all matters relating to international mutual assistance and extradition for cybercrime and cyber-related matters.

What are the evidence needed for cyber crime? ›

Digital evidence is any information or data of value to an investigation that is stored on, received by, or transmitted by an electronic device. Text messages, emails, pictures and videos, and internet searches are some of the most common types of digital evidence.

How do you fight online for defamation? ›

If you're confident that you are indeed dealing with an instance of online defamation, there are several steps you can take to remedy the situation.
  1. Do Nothing. ...
  2. Collect Evidence. ...
  3. Get a Lawyer. ...
  4. Send a Cease and Desist Letter. ...
  5. Publish Your Own Statement. ...
  6. Sue for Defamation.

What is the punishment for cyber defamation? ›

The section 66A of IT Act 2000 deals with cyber defamation and punishment for it. The punishment for cyber defamation is upto 3 years or fine or both. Comparing the punishment under IPC and IT Act, more punishment will be awarded if you register your complaint under IT Act!

What is the most common defense to a defamation claim? ›

The best defense against a defamation case (really against most things) is the truth. Truth is an absolute defense to defamation – if your statement was true, it cannot be the grounds for a successful defamation claim against you.

What are three common defenses to a defamation action? ›

The most common defenses to defamation are: 1) truth; 2) consent; 3) privilege; and 4) the statute of limitations. Perhaps the most distinct aspect of the defamation cause of action is that falsity is required. In other words, the statement publicized about the plaintiff must be false in order to prove defamation.

Is it hard to prove defamation? ›

The defences to defamation are notoriously difficult to establish. While the complainant need not prove the material is false, the defendant can escape liability by showing that it's true.

Are defamation cases hard to win? ›

It can be difficult to win a defamation case because it can sometimes be hard to prove a false statement caused actual damages.

Is it worth suing for defamation? ›

The answer is, yes, it is worth it. When a true case of defamation exists, there are damages that are caused as a result. Those damages are compensable through a civil lawsuit, in California and beyond.

What's the difference between slander and defamation? ›

Libel and slander are both types of defamation. Libel is an untrue defamatory statement that is made in writing. Slander is an untrue defamatory statement that is spoken orally. The difference between defamation and slander is that a defamatory statement can be made in any medium.

How much is moral damages here in the Philippines? ›

Jurisprudence similarly pegs the amount at P100,000.00. Moral damages are awarded to compensate for manifold injuries such as physical suffering, mental anguish, serious anxiety, besmirched reputation, wounded feelings and social humiliation.

What is the punishment for defaming? ›

In some states, libel can sometimes be charged as a crime and be punishable by a fine and jail time. However, in California, people who have been defamed are limited to their right to recover damages in a civil lawsuit.

How long do you go to jail for cybercrime in the Philippines? ›

Computer-related identity theft which involves unauthorized acquiring, using or misusing, possessing and transferring, altering or deleting another person's identifying information is punishable with up to six months imprisonment and fines amounting in the hundreds of thousands.

What is the minimum punishment for cyber crime? ›

The penalty for such acts is imprisonment and fines up to 2 years and Rs. 2000, respectively. The punishment for any of the above crimes may be up to five years of imprisonment and a fine of up to Rs. 5000 for repeat (second-time) offenders.

Can someone sue for libel in social media in the Philippines? ›

Freedom of Speech abnd Punishment for Cyber Libel

A violation of R.A. 10175, particularly Sec. 4(c)(4) of R.A. 10175 (Cyberlibel) can result, not only in the filing of a criminal complaint, but also a civil complaint for damages.

What are the most top 5 common cybercrimes in the Philippines? ›

9 Most Common Computer and Internet Cyber Crimes
  • Phishing. ...
  • Harassment. ...
  • Ransomware. ...
  • Prostitution. ...
  • Child Pornography & Solicitation. ...
  • Intellectual Property Theft. ...
  • Account Hacking. ...
  • Drug Trafficking.

What is cybercrime in the Philippines with examples? ›

Most common among internet crimes are fraud, sexual abuse and exploitation, bullying, and identity theft.

What are the types of cybercrime in the Philippines? ›

Here are 5 of the top cybercrimes affecting businesses and individuals in 2022:
  • Phishing Scams.
  • Website Spoofing.
  • Ransomware.
  • Malware.
  • IOT Hacking.
Oct 3, 2022

Can you go to jail for defamation? ›

Written defamation is called "libel," and spoken defamation is considered "slander," and they both fall under "defamation." In the US, defamation is not usually a crime. Instead, it is a "tort" or civil wrong. Under the law, a person who has been defamed can seek damages from the perpetrator.

What is cyber libel in Philippines? ›

Cyber-libel is a term used when someone has posted or emailed something that is untrue and damaging about someone else on the Internet, including in message boards, bulletin boards, blogs, chat rooms, personal websites, social media, social networking sites, or other published articles.

How hard is it to prove a slander case? ›

It can be difficult to win a slander lawsuit because you must prove you were damaged by a spoken statement. Proving injury can be more difficult than in a libel claim, which is the type of lawsuit you would file if you were slandered in writing.

What proof do you need for defamation of character? ›

To prove prima facie defamation, a plaintiff must show four things: 1) a false statement purporting to be fact; 2) publication or communication of that statement to a third person; 3) fault amounting to at least negligence; and 4) damages, or some harm caused to the reputation of the person or entity who is the subject ...


1. Introduction to Cybercrime and Environmental Laws and Protection | Part 1
2. Ordinary and Cyber libel (Articles 353 to 355; 360 of the RPC and Section 4 (c) (4) of RA 10175)
(Fiscal EJ)
3. Cybercrime in the Philippines (Hon. Maria Rowena Modesto-San Pedro)
(Disini Law)
(Atty. Rico Rentuza)
5. Criminology Review: Cybercrime Investigation Part 2
(Nicolas and de Vega Law Offices)


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