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Lacson on petitions vs. anti-terror law: The more, the better

Senator Panfilo Lacson on Monday said the more petitions challenging the constitutionality of the Anti-Terrorism Act of 2020 filed with the Supreme Court, the better, so that the controversial provisions would be shedded light by the high court.

In an interview on Dobol B sa News TV, the principal sponsor of the newly signed anti-terror law described the filing of petitions at the Supreme Court as "democracy at work."

"Kailangan talaga i-encourage nga natin as many petitions na i-file nila, mas maganda, para talagang pag-usapan nang husto. Mas maganda magkaroon ng oral argument para ang ating SolGen (Solicitor General) maidepensa nang husto ang constitutionality," Lacson said.

"Pero ina-assure nga natin ang batas na ito, it is a good law, swift, effective and most importantly constitutional," he added.

Further, Lacson said he believes Chief Justice Diosdado Peralta—having significant experience in criminal law at a regional trial court and Sandiganbayan—would appreciate the provisions of the anti-terror law which President Rodrigo Duterte enacted last Friday.

Nonetheless, he acknowledged that other SC justices would also be part of the deliberations on whether the petitions filed against the measure would hold water.

If some provisions of the anti-terror law would be ruled as unconstitutional, its separability clause would apply, according to Lacson.

"Kung halimbawa may provision na ito unconstitutional, ito unconstitutional, ang maiiwanan tuloy pa rin ang effect noon," he said.

Senate President Vicente Sotto III also welcomed the gesture of critics of the law who immediately lodged petitions before the Supreme Court to question its legality.

"I do not think SC justices can be [intimidated] by anyone or the number of petitions. It's about content! So you are filing? Be my guest!" Sotto said.

A group of lawyers and former Education Secretary Br. Armin Luistro on Saturday filed via electronic filing a petition challenging the constitutionality of the anti-terror law. They physically filed the document on Monday morning.

The House of Representatives' Makabayan bloc also asked the Supreme Court to junk the law.

The dean and several professors of the Far Eastern University (FEU) Institute of Law on Monday filed the third petition against the newly-signed Anti-Terrorism Act of 2020.

Dean Mel Sta. Maria and six professors asked the Supreme Court to issue a temporary restraining order preventing the implementation of several provisions of the controversial new law while the court hears the case. The law professors urged the SC to eventually declare the assailed provisions unconstitutional and void.

Opposition Senator Francis Pangilinan, one of the only two senators who voted against the bill during the Senate deliberations, said he is also preparing to lodge a separate petition before the high court.

The Palace, for its part, said that laws passed by Congress enjoy the presumption of constitutionality— RSJ, GMA News