MANILA (UPDATE) - Opposition Sen. Francis "Kiko" Pangilinan and House Assistant Minority Leader France Castro on Friday said they were ready to question the constitutionality of the newly-signed Anti-Terror Law before the Supreme Court.
Pangilinan, one of only 2 senators who opposed the passage of the bill in the Senate, said he was "not surprised" that President Rodrigo Duterte signed it into law despite several groups calling for the junking of the measure.
"Dapat ibasura ang walang kwentang batas na ito at handa tayong kwestyunin ang Constitutionality ng batas na ito sa Korte Suprema," Pangilinan said in a statement.
(This useless law should be junked and we are ready to question its constitutionality before the Supreme Court.)
"From Day 1 this Administration unleashed draconian and authoritarian measures as a showcase of its brand of leadership," he said.
"These draconian measures, however, have been exposed as nothing more than a show of senseless, mindless violence as means to sow fear amongst the people," he said.
The senator said the Anti-Terror Law is similar to the Duterte administration's intensified campaign against illegal drugs, the martial law in Mindanao, and Luzon's recent lockdown, in the sense that these policies all "miserably failed" to address the problems it ought to solve.
"The drug war has not nailed big-time drug lords and illegal drugs still flow after 4 years. Martial law in Mindanao has miserably failed to address the reconstruction of Marawi. The longest lockdown and the arrests of tens of thousands have not addressed the continuing spread of COVID-19," Pangilinan said.
"Patunay lahat ito na hindi kamay na bakal ang solusyon sa ating mga problema sa bansa," he said.
(This proves that iron fists are not the solution to the problems of our country.)
Pangilinan has yet to explain which provisions of the new law would be raised before the high court, but noted that the Anti-Terror Law should be junked.
"Basura ang pilit na isinusubo sa taumbayan," he said.
(They are feeding garbage to the people.)
Sen. Risa Hontiveros, the other Senate member who voted against the measure, said the signing of the law showed that government placed greater priority on "killing our freedoms and hanging on to power" instead of addressing the health and welfare of the people.
"Isa lang ang dahilan kung bakit pinagpilitan ng gobyernong ito ang pagpasa ng batas na ito sa gitna ng isang health crisis (There is only one reason why the government forced the passage of this law in the middle of a health crisis). They are afraid of the growing discontent of the people with the government's incompetence and abuses during the global pandemic," she said in a statement.
"This law, with its vague and unconstitutional provisions, will provide government with fearsome legal tools to oppress and silence those who speak out and resist the injustices, the violence and the corruption of those in power," Hontiveros added.
Castro, who represents ACT Teachers Party-list in the House of Representatives, said her group would also question the law before the high court.
"Asahan nilang sasalubungin ito ng mas malawakang protesta at, sa mga unang working days pa lang matapos ito pirmahan, ng mga petisyon sa Korte Suprema," Castro said.
(They should expect that we will meet this with a mass protest and that we will question its constitutionality before the Supreme Court.)
"Duterte just signed a death warrant to the human rights of every man, woman, and child in the Philippines," she said.
Castro also slammed the Duterte administration for allegedly prioritizing measures that "curtail the human rights of the public" over policies that would aid Filipinos during the global pandemic.
"Sa panahon na kailangan ng taumbayan ay tulong at mga kongkretong plano at solusyon, ang mga nagsulong at nagpatupad ng napakasahol na batas na ito ang tunay na mga terorista sa kabuhayan, kalayaan at karapatan ng bawat Pilipino," she said.
(In this time when our people need help and concrete plans and solutions, those who pushed for this very deplorable law are the real terrorists to the livelihood, freedom and rights of every Filipino.)
In a statement, Albay Rep. Edcel Lagman said Duterte's signing of the anti-terror law "further stifles dissent, imposes prior restraint to freedom of expression, derogates civil liberties, and institutes state terrorism."
He noted how the Human Security Act of 2007, which the new law sought to supplant, had "provided for safeguards for fundamental freedoms."
"These safeguards were all obliterated by the “Anti-Terrorism Act of 2020” and replaced with motherhood declarations which are orphaned by oppressive provisions. The new law installs national security to a high pedestal while it demotes civil liberties to a lowly footstool," he said.
Critics have warned of certain provisions in the law, including allowing detention without charges of up to 24 days and vague definitions of acts that qualify as terrorism, among others.