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SC resets oral arguments after OSG staff get COVID-19
A notice released to reporters yesterday, signed by SC clerk of court Edgar Aricheta, stated that the oral arguments will be moved to Feb. 2, “considering the meritorious request” of Calida.
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SC resets oral arguments after OSG staff get COVID-19

Robertzon Ramirez (The Philippine Star) - January 16, 2021 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — The Supreme Court (SC) has postponed the Jan. 19 oral arguments on the controversial anti-terror law after Solicitor General Jose Calida’s assistant solicitor general and some staff tested positive for COVID-19.

A notice released to reporters yesterday, signed by SC clerk of court Edgar Aricheta, stated that the oral arguments will be moved to Feb. 2, “considering the meritorious request” of Calida.

Aricheta said the assistant solicitor general and some of his staff were supposed to attend the oral arguments to help Calida defend the law, which took effect in July last year.

“No further postponement will be allowed,” Aricheta said.

SC spokesman Brian Keith Hosaka, when sought for questions and clarifications, told reporters in a Viber message that he has “no other information other than what is stated in the notice.”

A 10-page advisory recently released by the SC stated that representatives of both sides who will physically attend the oral arguments are required to present negative swab test results taken within 72 hours before the event.

Calida can bring no more than three lawyers with him during the oral arguments while the petitioners’ side is allowed only eight lawyers.

Only one lawyer per petition, if not among the eight presenting lawyers, will be allowed to physically attend the oral arguments, according to the SC. A total of 37 petitions have been filed by various groups.

Manila apostolic administrator Bishop Broderick Pabillo, one of the petitioners from the Catholic Church, said he hopes Calida’s request is not a “delaying tactic.”

National Union of Peoples’ Lawyers president Edre Olalia, another petitioner, said he hopes that “no supervening event” would happen during the runup to the new schedule of the oral arguments “that might put things in jeopardy, especially now that the law seems poised to be applied at neck-breaking speed.”                

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