Carpio: Anti-terrorism bill may immediately be challenged on constitutionality in SC

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, June 4) — Retired Senior Associate Justice Antonio Carpio said the constitutionality of the controversial Anti-Terrorim Bill can immediately be questioned in the Supreme Court once President Rodrigo Duterte signs it into law.

“It can be facially challenged because there is a provision that penalizes inciting to sedition. The law affects free speech,” Carpio said.

Under Section 9, the bill introduced a new crime “inciting to commit terrorism,” which punishes "any person who, without taking any direct part in the commission of terrorism, shall incite others to the execution of any of the means of speeches, proclamations, writings, emblems, banners or other representations tending to the same end."

As to the provision on warrantless arrest in Section 29, Carpio argues that it is unconstitutional.

House Bill 6875, which repeals the Human Security Act of 2007, will extend the number of days suspected terrorists can be detained without a warrant of arrest – from three days under the current law to up to 14 days, extendable by another 10 days.

Lawmakers in the Makabayan bloc said they will take the bill to the High Court after it becomes a law.

Bayan Muna Rep. Carlos Zarate said they are ready to challenge the constitutionality of the measure, which now only needs the President’s signature after the House approved it on third and final reading on Wednesday evening.

"Kailangan hintayin natin yung bersyon, yung batas na nalagdaan na ni Pangulong Duterte...kailangan dumaan pa sa legislative process hanggang sa umabot sa Malacañang at malagdaan ito at yun nga ang gagawin nating basehan sa pagquestion nito," Zarate told CNN Philippines' Balitaan on Thursday.

[Translation: We need to wait for the version of the measure which will be signed by President Rodrigo Duterte ito needs to go through a legislative process until it reaches Malacañang and have it signed into a law so that we could question it.]

Zarate noted that the measure also poses threats against progressive groups, who previously faced "red-tagging" from state forces.

"Dahil binigyan ng discretion yung pulis at militar to determine the intention of those staging the protest, sasabihin in pursuit of terrorism at pwede sabihing acts of terrorism pa rin yon," the lawmaker said.

[Translation: Because police and military forces were given the authority to determine the intention of those staging the protest, they could say that these acts may be in pursuit of terrorism or acts of terrorism.]

He also warned that the measure only gives the government the right of passage to abuses which could be "worse than the martial law."

"The track record of the Duterte administration for gross violations of human rights, extrajudicial killings, intensive military operations against rural communities, including Moro and indigenous people, and weaponisation of the law to harass and detain critics, virtually assures that the new anti-terror law will be used and abused by Malacanang against the people," Zarate said.

The lower chamber approved the bill with 173 affirmative, 31 negative, and 29 abstention, adopting the exact version that was passed in the Senate last February.

The Senate then noted that the bill would be as "good as passed."