LIVE: Oral arguments on petitions vs the anti-terrorism law — Day 3

PhilstarLIVE (Philstar.com) - February 16, 2021 - 1:00pm

MANILA, Philippines — The Supreme Court continues the oral arguments on the 37 petitions questioning the much feared Anti-Terrorism Act of 2020 on Tuesday, February 16.

This is already the third day of the oral arguments, as the 15-member tribunal resumes their interpellation of the seven oralists of the petitioners.

The second day of the oral arguments started with Solicitor General Jose Calida making an oral manifestation that two Aeta farmers Japer Gurung and Junior Ramos, known as the first to be charged with anti-terrorism law violations, are withdrawing their Petition-in-Intervention.

Calida told the court that government lawyers have swooped in their cases, with the two farmers signing a manifestation that they were merely forced by the National Union of Peoples’ Lawyers to sign the petition they did not understand.

The NUPL, long-time rights and pro bono lawyers, denied there was any coercion in the petition they prepared.

Gurung and Ramos’ fight against the anti-terrorism law however will be confined at the trial court, at the time, as the SC cited the pending case and unanimously denied their Petition-in-Intervention.

After Calida’s manifestation, justices continued to grill the petitioners on how the law may have “chilled” them into silence. Associate Justice Marvic Leonen and NUPL chair Neri Colmenares discussed whether a petition for habeas corpus, usually legal remedy of relatives of missing persons to compel the government to produce their persons, may be filed for a person detained under Section 29 of the law.

Colmenares submitted that the right is not taken away, but there remains fear the petition may be dismissed by the court due to the wording of the law that allows up to 24 days of detention, without charges, of suspected terrorists with a written authority from the Anti-Terrorism Council.

Should the justices finish their interpellation of the petitioners on its third day of oral arguments, the appointed amici curiae or “friend/s of court” will present their statements.

The SC has called in retired Associate Justice Francis Jardeleza and former Chief Justice Reynato Puno to help the tribunal dispose issues raised against the anti-terrorism law.

Tune in to the live audio streaming of the oral arguments scheduled at 2:00 p.m. on Tuesday, February 16. Meanwhile, read recaps of the first two days of oral arguments here and here.

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