LAW EACH WEEK
Cybersex is the willful engagement, maintenance, control or operation, directly or indirectly, of any lascivious exhibition of sexual organs or sexual activity, with the aid of a computer system, for favor or consideration. (R.A. 10175 or the Cybercrime Prevention Act of 2012)
Is cybersex punishable in the Philippines?
Yes. Republic Act 10175 of the Cybercrime Prevention Act of 2012 does not only define cybersex but also prohibits its commission. When a person willfully engages in acts of lascivious exhibition of his/ her sexual organs using webcams for monetary gain given by the audience, then the act becomes a violation of this special law. Under this law, the penalty is prision mayor or a fine of at least Two Hundred Thousand Pesos (P200,000.00) but not exceeding One Million Pesos (P1,000,000.00).
Before the Cybercime Prevention Act, there were the Anti-Trafficking of Persons of 2003 (R.A. 9208) and Expanded Anti-Trafficking in Persons of 2012 (R.A. 10364) but these laws do not cover all circumstances and situations. RA 10175 seeks to cover all acts committed through the use of information technology or by whatever means of a person engaged in real or simulated sexual activities. The use of the word in “favor” for a consideration suggests that the perpetrator cannot use the defense that no money was paid if the act itself was done on the grounds that the victim will be nonetheless paid.
Is it still the crime of cybersex when two consenting adults do such act online?
No. In the case of Disini et al. v Secretary of Justice (G.R. No. 203335, February 11, 2014), the Court is clear that “the understanding of those who drew up the cybercrime law is that the element of ‘engaging in a business’ is necessary to constitute the illegal cybersex. The Act actually seeks to punish cyber prostitution, white slave trade, and pornography for favor and consideration. This includes interactive prostitution and pornography, i.e., by webcam.” Therefore, based from this, when two consenting adults (most likely lovers), perform such acts online at their private abode, then the same is not punishable provided that there is no consideration for such.
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