MANILA, Philippines — The resumption of oral arguments on the petitions against Anti-Terrorism Act of 2020 have been postponed again as Metro Manila continues to be under Enhanced Community Quarantine.
“Oral arguments on the consolidated cases… questioning the Anti-Terrorism Act of 2020 scheduled for tomorrow (April 6, 2021) is postponed,” the SC Public Information Office said in a tweet.
It added that the debates will resume two weeks after the enhanced community quarantine is lifted in Metro Manila, but no exact date was stated. Solicitor General Jose Calida is set to present his opening statement for the government's defense in the next oral arguments session.
The latest announcement from the Malacañang puts Metro Manila, Bulacan, Cavite, Laguna and Rizal under ECQ until April 11.
This is the third time the SC postponed the oral arguments since the last session on March 2 when the justices wrapped up its interpellation of the petitioners.
More than nine months since the first of the 37 petitions was filed, and with debates being suspended as a health precaution, the SC has yet to issue a temporary restraining order against the anti-terrorism law’s implementation.
The court earlier said it will wait for Solicitor General Jose Calida’s comment on fresh pleadings 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’ motion asking for an order to temporarily stop the enforcement of the law.
On February 23, more than 20 petitioners filed a fresh plea for TRO, listing several “supervening events” such as 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.
In his latest motion, Calida asked the SC if they can be given until April 23 to file its comment. He said the Office of the Solicitor General is “coordinating with the respondents, some of which also need more time to address fully the OSG’s inquiries as well as the allegations of petitioners.”
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).
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