Con-Com considering judicial preview of bills
MANILA, Philippines (UPDATED) – Should the judiciary preview bills being debated in Congress to resolve constitutional issues before they are passed as laws?
A provision that allows Congress to ask the Supreme Court for advice on the constitutionality of a bill is being considered by the Constitutional Committee (Con-Com) formed by President Rodrigo Duterte.
The proposed measure is seen by its proponents as a way to ensure a streamlined manner of passing laws by lessening the chances of a petition challenging its constitutionality and possibly voiding the law.
"That is the suggestion, that we allow the Supreme Court to take jurisdiction...whether the Supreme Court is required to give in advance an opinion even on bills that are still pending in parliament. That is the doctrine of preview," said Con-Com chairman Reynato Puno on Tuesday, March 20.
In the proposal, members of Congress take the initiative to ask the Supreme Court to resolve whether or not the bill, or a specific provision, violates the Constitution.
This way, the issue is resolved at an early stage and not after the bill has become law – when time, effort, and resources had already been spent on the entire process.
Puno said there are two options on how to implement this. In France, judicial preview happens before a bill becomes a law. In Germany, it is done after the law is passed but before it is implemented.
In the current setup, groups or individuals file a petition with the Supreme Court to question the constitutionality of a law, often with the goal of voiding the law.
The creation of a constitutional court to preview bills in such scenarios was suggested by Con-Com members.
"The issue here is whether you create a Constitutional court whose expertise is violation of the Constitution," said Puno.
Laws that have been challenged in this manner include the Reproductive Health Act, K-to-12 Act, and Anti-Violence Against Women Law.
The proposal on judicial review has been part of Con-Com's discussions on how the powers of the executive, judiciary, and legislative branches should be distributed.
Former Kabataan Partylist Representative Terry Ridon described judicial preview as an "unnecessary step."
"Introducing judicial preview of bills being debated in Congress will only delay the enactment of laws and clog the dockets of the Supreme Court," he said in a message sent to Rappler. – Rappler.com