Petitioners assail for being intrinsically vague and impermissibly broad the definition of the crime of terrorism under RA 9372 (the Human Security Act of 2007) in that terms like “widespread and extraordinary fear and panic among the populace” and “coerce the government to give in to an unlawful demand” are nebulous, leaving law enforcement agencies with no standard to measure the prohibited acts.
Can the Human Security Act of 2007 be facially challenged on the grounds of vagueness and overbreadh doctrines?
A facial invalidation of a statute is allowed only in free speech cases, wherein certain rules of constitutional litigation are rightly excepted.
In Estrada vs. Sandiganbayan it was held that:
A facial challenge is allowed to be made to a vague statute and to one which is overbroad because of possible”chilling effect” upon protected speech. The possible harm to society in permitting some unprotected speech to go unpunished is outweighed by the possibility that the protected speech of others may be deterred and perceived grievances left to fester because of possible inhibitory effects of overly broad statutes.
This rationale does not apply to penal statutes. Criminal statutes have general in terrorem effect resulting from their very existence, and, if facial challenge is allowed for this reason alone, the State may well be prevented from enacting laws against socially harmful conduct. In the area of criminal law, the law cannot take chances as in the area of free speech.