The people should not be fooled by a dubious proposal to repeal the Anti-Terrorism Act of 2020 (ATA).
The repeal of the ATA as suggested by Senate President Vicente Sotto III, one of the law’s principal authors, will not fly even if abuses in its implementation occur.
This is so because the repeal would have to be made by the present Congress with the approval of the incumbent President who are the principals in the enactment of the ATA and are not expected to instantly recant.
The remedy is with the Supreme Court by exercising its expanded power of judicial review as prayed for in the various petitions to void the ATA.
We do not have to wait for implementers to abuse the ATA because the law itself is abusive.
The standard on unconstitutionality is not the incidence of abuses but the threat to freedom embedded in the law.
For this reason, a facial or textual challenge to a law is justiciable when the statute infringes on the freedom of expression and the freedom of assembly for redress of grievances without waiting for any abuse to be committed.
Similarly, the Supreme Court in SWS v. COMELEC (G.R. No. 147571, May 5, 2001) ruled that when a law is challenged to be a prior restraint to freedom of expression and of the press, it is presumed to be unconstitutional and the burden is on the government to prove otherwise.
The trite invocation that a law should be “given a chance” to be implemented is off-tangent because the ATA has no saving grace and should not be given any chance to terrorize the people.
It must be voided soonest so that the people can enjoy their civil liberties without prior restraint or subsequent punishment.
EDCEL C. LAGMAN