SC sets Nov. 26 meeting to start oral arguments on anti-terror law cases

Published November 3, 2020, 6:08 PM

by Rey Panaligan 

The Supreme Court (SC) on Tuesday, Nov. 3, decided to hold on November 26 the preliminary conference preparatory to oral arguments on the 37 petitions filed against the alleged unconstitutionality of the Anti-Terrorism Act of 2020.


A check with the SC showed that lawyers of the petitioners in the cases will be invited to join the preliminary conference where issues to be tackled in the oral arguments will be discussed and finalized.

Once the issues are finalized, the SC is expected to start the oral arguments on its succeeding full court session on December 1 or immediately thereafter.

Last month, Chief Justice Diosdado M. Peralta had assured a speedy resolution of the 37 petitions against ATA, which is, so far, the most challenged legislation in recent history.

Considering the number of petitions filed against ATA, Peralta said there may be a consensus who among the petitioners would argue during the oral arguments.

He pointed out that it would be difficult and cumbersome if every representative of petitioners in the 37 cases would have to argue and be heard by the court.

All the petitions pleaded for the issuance of a temporary restraining order (TRO) to stop the enforcement of the law, under Republic Act No. 11479, which started last July 18 after it was enacted last July 3.

Petitioners in at least four cases have reiterated their pleas for the issuance of a TRO.

While some petitioners wanted the SC to declare unconstitutional certain provisions in RA 11479, particularly on the definition of “terrorism,” most of the cases pleaded for the nullification of the law in its entirety for alleged violations of several of the people’s fundamental rights.

Thirty-six of the 37 petitions, which have been consolidated into one case, have been officially docketed as of October 2 based on the list obtained from the SC’s judicial records office.

Still undocketed but has been official received by the SC was the petition filed by the Anak Mindanao Party List represented by Amihilda Sangcopan. It was coursed through the post office together with the petition filed by Haroun Alrashid Alonto Lucman and his group.

Based on the list, the officially docketed petitions against ATA as of last October 2 were those filed by:

Group of lawyer Howard Calleja and former education secretary Armin Luistro, under docket number 252258;  Rep. Edcel C. Lagman, 252579;  the group of Law Dean Mel Sta. Maria and several professors of the Far Eastern University (FEU), 252580;

The Makabayan bloc in the House of Representatives led by Bayan Muna Party-List Rep. Carlos Isagani Zarate, 252585; the former head of the Office of the Government Corporate Counsel Rudolph Philip B. Jurado, 252613;

Two labor groups represented by the Center for Trade Union and Human Rights (CTUHR) and the Pro-Labor Legal Assistance Center (PLACE), 252623; the group of former members of the 1986 Constitutional Commission Christian S. Monsod and Felicitas A. Aquino and their group from the Ateneo Human Rights Center, 252624;

Party-List organization Sanlakas, 252646; several labor groups led by the Federation of Free Workers, 252702; Ferrer, 252726;  the group of cause-oriented and advocacy organizations led by Bagong Alyansang Makabayan, 252733; the group of former SC Associate Justices Antonio T. Carpio and Conchita Carpio Morales, 252736;

The group of Ma. Ceres Doyo and former Constitutional Commission members Florangel Rosario Braid and Professor Edmundo Garcia, 252741; National Union of Journalists of the Philippines, 252747; Kabataang Tagapagtanggol ng Karapatan, 252755; and the group of Algamar Latiph, 252759.

Bishop Broderick Pabillo, 252767; GABRIELA, 252768;  Lawrence Yerbo, Undocketed, 16663; Henry Abendan, 252802;  Concerned Online Citizens, 253809; Concerned Lawyers for Civil Liberties, 252903; Beverly Longid, 252904; Center for International Law, 252905.

Main T. Mohammad, 252916; Sangguniang Kabataan Chairperson Semuel Gio Fernandez Cayabyab, 252921; Association of Major Religious Superiors in the Philippines, 252984;  UP System Faculty Regent Dr. Ramon Guillermo, 253018; Philippine Bar Association, 253100; Balay Rehabilitation Center, Inc., 253118; and Integrated Bar of the Philippines, 253124.

Coordinating Council for People Development and Governance, Inc., 253242; Philippine Misereor Partnership, Inc., 253252;  Pagkakaisa ng Kababaihan para sa Kalayaan, 253254; and Haroun Alrashid Alonte Lucman Jr., 253420.