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Anti-terror debates to resume at earliest on April 27 via videocon session
This photo release on February 2 shows the set up for the oral arguments on the anti-terrorism law petitions, conducted following safety protocols amid the COVID-19 pandemic. S
Supreme Court Public Information Office/Released

Anti-terror debates to resume at earliest on April 27 via videocon session

Kristine Joy Patag (Philstar.com) - April 8, 2021 - 1:03pm

MANILA, Philippines — The succeeding oral arguments on petitions against the Anti-Terrorism Act of 2020 will be conducted through videoconference with live audio streaming for public access, notice from the Supreme Court said.

In a one-page advisory from the SC’s Office of the Clerk of Court, parties in the consolidated petitions against the anti-terrorism law are told that the next schedule for the oral arguments shall be two weeks after the lifting of the enhanced community quarantine imposed on Metro Manila.

No specific date has been stated, but the resumption of debates may be on April 27, May 4 or May 11.

READ: Anti-terrorism debates again suspended, to resume two weeks after lifting of ECQ

“The continuation of the oral arguments shall be through videoconferencing with live audio streaming made available to the public,” Clerk of Court Marife Lomibao-Cuevas said.

“The technical details and the rules for the videoconferenced oral arguments pro hac vice [for this occasion only] shall be promulgated as soon as the Court En Banc is able to convene,” she added.

Solicitor General Jose Calida is set to present the opening statement for the government's defense of the law in the next session.

READ: Cheat sheet: Petitioners argue for the nullification of anti-terrorism law

Delays

The oral arguments on the petitions against the highly contentious anti-terrorism law have been suffering delays due to COVID-19 threat. Earlier sessions were suspended as justices needed to go on self-quarantine, while the enforcement of the ECQ as infections surge forced courts to be physically closed.

As the debates extend to months, petitioners have pressed the SC to temporarily stop the law’s implementation, citing “supervening events” that show the dangers of the Anti-Terrorism Act.

On February 23, more than 20 petitioners filed a fresh plea for a temporary restraining order, citing continued red-tagging and arrests of petitioners, scrapping of the Department of National Defense and University of the Philippines accord, and continued prosecution and detention of two Aeta farmers under the law.

But the SC had earlier said it will wait for Solicitor General Calida’s comment on the motions praying for a TRO before it resolves them.

Court documents, however, showed that Calida had asked the SC at least twice to extend the deadline for the government’s answer on the petitioners’ motions. His latest plea for extension seeks to push the deadline to April 23.

In the time between the petitioners' filing on February 23 to the end of March, counsel to petitioners Angelo Karlo Guillen was attacked and petitioners have also raised alleged intelligence-gathering and profiling of lawyers for "communist terrorist groups" as well as members of Confederation for Unity, Recognition and Advancement of Government Employees (COURAGE) and the Alliance of Concerned Teachers (ACT).

The petitioners, in their February 23 motion, appealed to the court: “[A] blow too soon struck for freedom is preferred than a blow too late.”

ANTI-TERRORISM LAW ENHANCED COMMUNITY QUARANTINE SUPREME COURT
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