In a statement, Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra said that the Justice Department will be looking at whether the bill’s provisions encroach the 1987 Philippine Constitution.
“The Congress has not sent the enrolled bill for the president’s signature. So our comments have not yet been requested by the Office of the President. Nonetheless, the DOJ will already start its own review of the bill.”Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra
When a bill passes the congress and senate’s readings, its final version — an enrolled bill — is passed pending the president’s signature. Once signed into law, the Department of Justice, who authorizes the Anti-Terror Council that will implement the measure, will be incharge for writing the law’s implementing rules and regulations.
“The DOJ’s task is not to interfere with governmental policy but to determine if the provisions of any enrolled bill are in accordance with the Constitution,” Guevarra said to Philstar. “I would like to believe that we have consistently and objectively discharged this duty,” he added.
The measure received widespread criticism from from human rights activists, lawyers, business groups and the academe who have petitioned to junk the terror bill due to its “unconstitutional” provisions that could be abused and used to suppress free speech and harass those who challenge the President. Others have questioned the government for prioritizing such a measure while the Philippines has yet to contain its COVID-19 epidemic.
Despite criticisms against the bill, the chief executive certified its proposal as urgent despite the ongoing novel coronavirus pandemic.