Debates on oral arguments on anti-terrorism law reset to March 2

February 22, 2021

MANILA, Philippines — The Supreme Court on Monday reset the fourth day of the oral arguments on the Anti-Terrorism Act petitions to March 2.

“Considering that some of the Justices are on self-quarantine as a health precaution against COVID-19, you are hereby informed per instruction of the Honorable Supreme Court, of the suspension of the oral arguments scheduled on February 23, 2021,” the one-page notice from the Office of the Clerk of Court read.

The SC has not identified the magistrates on quarantine.

Oral arguments will resume on March 2, 2:30 p.m.

The SC was supposed to resume its interpellation of the petitioners on February 26. So far, only eight justices have propounded their questions to the seven oralists, with Associate Justice Amy Lazaro-Javier intending to resume her interpellations on the fourth day of debates.

At a chance interview last Friday, Chief Justice Diosdado Peralta said they did not expect that a lot of their colleagues will ask a lot of questions to the petitioners, but they are hoping interpellation of petitioners will be finished on Tuesday.

Solicitor General Jose Calida, counsel for the respondents, has yet to present his opening statement, the government’s defense against the 37 petitioners lodged against the anti-terrorism law. The two amici curiae or “friends of court” have also yet to present their statements.

Since the suspension of session on February 16, petitioners composed of Indigenous Peoples and Moros have brought to the SC’s attention the arrest of two petitioners, Windel Bolinget and Chad Errol Booc.

In a manifestation filed last Wednesday, the petitioners told the court that the arrest of Bolinget and Booc “show the imminent danger that human rights defenders and dissenters face, particularly with the passage of the Anti-Terror Law.”

Rep. Edcel Lagman (Albay) also pressed the SC to issue a temporary restraining order against the law, citing Booc’s arrest and “threats” of prosecution by a certain military official under the law.

Peralta asked Lagman to put this in writing, noting that the lawmaker is reiterating the petitioners’ plea for TRO, so the Calida can comment on it. Deliberations on the prayer may follow.

Meanwhile, recaps of the first three days of oral arguments may be read herehere and here.

As It Happens

LATEST UPDATE: February 22, 2021 - 10:14am

President Rodrigo Duterte signed the Anti-Terrorism Law on July 3 despite opposition from rights groups and civil society groups that it could be used to stifle human rights.

A petition against the law has been filed at the Supreme Court and other groups are preparing pleadings of their own.

Follow this page for updates. Photo courtesy of The STAR/Michael Varcas 

February 22, 2021 - 10:14am

The fourth day of Oral arguments on the petitions against the Anti-Terrorism Law, which was scheduled on February 23, is suspended.

The Supreme Court says the oral arguments will resume on March 2 at 2:30 p.m.

SC clerk of court Edgar Aricheta says some of the justices are on self quarantine as a precaution against COVID-19.

February 9, 2021 - 3:10pm

Solicitor General Jose Calida says Aeta farmers Japer Gurung and Junior Ramos are withdrawing their petition-in-intervention to join the legal fight against the Anti-Terrorism Act.

He says, citing affidavits from the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples' and the Public Attorney's Office, that the two say they were offered P1,000 to sign the petition.

They say they did not sign the petition-in-intervention voluntarily.

February 4, 2021 - 8:52pm condemns the threat of Lt. Gen. Antonio Parlade Jr. to sue reporter Tetch Torres-Tupas for her report on two Aetas who sought help from the Supreme Court against the anti-terrorism law.

Parlade accused Torres-Tupas as a propagandist in a Facebook post on February 3.

" takes vigorous exception to the apparent red-tagging of our reporter and expresses alarm over Parlade’s attempt to sow fear, stifle dissent and curtail her right to make truthful and objective reports," says in a statement.

January 25, 2021 - 9:01pm

Retired Supreme Court justices Antonio Carpio and Conchita Carpio Morales urge the high court to confirm whether social media post attributed to "Antonio Parlade" is an official communication from the government. 

The petitioners ask the SC to direct the Office of the Solicitor General to write an explanation about the post advising the public to be "watchful of groups opposing the anti-terror law.

"Though some portions directly name specific persons, the Post also groups together petitioners as part of 'individuals, groups and organizations' who should be monitored for 'pposing a law that will protect citizens from terrorists,'" the petition read.

January 15, 2021 - 4:25pm

The Supreme Court resets oral arguments on anti-terrorism law petitions to February 2, after Solicitor General Jose Calida said his assistant solicitor general and some staff tested positive for COVID-19. — Joy Patag

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