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Hontiveros, Pangilinan mull challenging constitutionality of anti-terror bill before SC

Two minority senators on Tuesday said they are studying the possibility of challenging the constitutionality of the anti-terror bill before the Supreme Court (SC) should President Rodrigo Duterte sign it into law.

"The prudent recourse is to raise the constitutional issues before the SC," Senator Francis Pangilinan said in a message.

Asked if he would lead or join the said move, the senator said: "We are considering this, yes."

Senator Risa Hontiveros likewise said she is weighing the proper course of action to prevent the controversial bill from prospering.

"Ako po ay nagkokonsulta pa rin at nag-aaral kasama ng mga legal expert kung mangunguna ba or sasali sa paghain ng isang kaso sa Korte Supreme pero kung ano pa man, kahit pa hindi, kung iba ang aking magiging gawain parallel doon ay patuloy akong susuporta sa ganiyang mga gawain... para depensahan ang ating mga kalayaan at ating mga karapatan," she said.

Nonetheless, Hontiveros still appealed to Duterte to veto the bill and instead prioritize response efforts to defeat COVID-19.

On the other hand, Senate President Vicente Sotto III said the bill was properly refined by the lawmakers in Congress before it reached the President's table.

Those who are against the proposed law have been misguided by social media posts, he declared.

"Three years kaming nag-hearings at debate then pinasa on third reading tapos saka sila kokontra. Na-misinform lang sila. Kumagat sa mga false statements sa socmed," Sotto said.

The final version of the bill, approved by both houses of Congress, was officially transmitted to Malacanang for President Rodrigo Duterte's signature on Tuesday.

Several groups are calling to junk it as they pointed out that it could be an instrument to silence political dissent and activism in the country.

Among the controversial provisions of the measure were the extension of detention period for those arrested without warrant from the current 36 hours to 14 days, which is extendable by 10 more days; the court's issuance of preliminary proscription order within 72 hours; and the allegedly "ambiguous" definition of what constitutes terrorism. 

If passed into law, the legislation can still be challenged before the Supreme Court, according to retired Senior Associate Justice Antonio Carpio. — BM, GMA News