SC determining common issues for anti-terror law oral arguments
Kristine Joy Patag ( - October 23, 2020 - 2:38pm

MANILA, Philippines — The Supreme Court is determining common issues raised in the dozens of petitions against the Anti-Terrorism Act of 2020 for the coming oral arguments, Chief Justice Diosdado Peralta said Friday.

In the "Chief Justice Meets the Press" event on Friday, Peralta explained that the justice-in-charge of the petitions is coming up with the common issues raised in the 37 petitions against the anti-terrorism law. He stressed that they cannot proceed with the oral arguments if justices have not determined issues they will discuss.

“I hope she will already be ready to submit to us the issues to be argued and then set the preliminary conference because we have also to consult,” the chief justice explained.

“We try to move fast but because there are so many petitions, it’s difficult,” Peralta admitted.  

With the law’s Implementing Rules and Regulations released last weekend, petitioners are pressing the SC to act on their pleas and grant their prayer for a temporary halt order against the implementation of Republic Act 11479.

The first petition against the law was filed barely 24 hours since President Rodrigo Duterte signed the Anti-Terrorism Act of 2020. In August, the SC said they will hold oral arguments on the petitions at the earliest by end of September but no date has been announced yet.

How many lawyers will argue? Will 'friends of the court' be invited?

Peralta admitted that one of the difficulties they are facing is that lawyers of the 37 groups of petitioners would want to argue before the SC. He also said that the Office of the Solicitor General will bring all assistant solicitors general for the oral arguments.

“Where will we place them?” He said.

The justices then moved to determine first common issues in the petitions then conduct a preliminary conference. “Petitioners who have common issues , they will appoint one to argue,” the chief justicesaid.

Peralta also said there is a move to invite one or two amicus curiae or “friend of court,” usually called in by the court to “help in the disposition of issues submitted to it.”

Martial law-era Solicitor General Estelito Mendoza has asked the SC to allow him to appear as amicus curiae in the case, but at least two petitioners blocked his pleading.

The petition led by former SC Justice Antonio Carpio and the Free Legal Assistance Group said that Mendoza was not offering friendly advice to the SC but is seeking to intervene as third person and as “friend of the Respondents.”

Peralta said: “We will resolve that problem in due time.”

The chief justice said he hopes that when the SC resumes session on November 3, these issues will already be addressed by the justice-in-charge of the case.

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