SC postpones Anti-Terrorism Law hearing over COVID-19; petitioner dismayed

Published January 16, 2021, 10:30 AM

by Jeffrey Damicog

One of the petitioners questioning the constitutionality of the Anti-Terrorism Law has expressed dismay over the decision of the Supreme Court (SC) to postpone the oral arguments over the issue that was scheduled next week.

The SC announced on Friday, Jan. 15, that the scheduled Jan. 19 oral arguments is postponed and reset for Feb. 2 after a staff and an Assistant Solicitor General of the Office Solicitor General (OSG) scheduled to participate in the hearing caught the coronavirus disease (COVID-19).

National Union of People’s Lawyers (NUPL) president Edre Olalia admitted that he has mixed reactions over the SC’s decision to cancel the oral arguments.

“While we assume good faith and hope our counterparts recover, we are at the same time quite disappointed at the last-minute postponement given the extreme urgency and tremendous import of the case,” Olalia said.

In the meantime, Olialia said the petitioners will take advantage of the postponement to “give us extra time to even thoroughly prepare more and consolidate our ranks further.”

“We pray though that no supervening event would transpire meanwhile that might put things in jeopardy especially now that the law seems poised to be applied at neck-breaking speed,” the NUPL official stated.

“We wish our colleagues in the profession well,” he added.

The NUPL is one of the petitioners of the 37 petitions which have been filed before the SC questioning the constitutionality of the Anti-Terrorism Law.

The petitioners have already manifested to the SC that they will be represented by seven lawyers during the oral arguments, namely: Albay Rep. Edcel Lagman, former Bayan Muna party-list Rep. Neri Colmenares, former Solicitor General Jose Anselmo Cadiz, Free Legal Assistance Group (FLAG) chairman Chel Diokno, Alfredo Molo III, Evalyn Urtsua, and Algamar Latiph.

Solicitor General Jose Calida has been allowed to bring with him not more than three OSG lawyers to represent the government.