Oral arguments on 37 petitions which challenged the constitutionality of the Anti-Terrorism Act (ATA) will resume online via video conferencing starting at 2:30 p.m. on Tuesday, April 27.
In an advisory, the SC said that only the justices, two amici curiae (friends of the court), three lawyers each from the 37 petitioners, and seven lawyers from the Office of the Solicitor General (OSG) will be allowed to participate through the Zoom platform.
Only the SC’s public information office (PIO) was allowed “to do continuous live streaming of the oral arguments via YouTube.” The streaming, however, is limited to an audio feed.
Last April 8, Chief Justice Alexander G. Gesmundo announced the resumption of oral arguments on ATA two weeks after the lifting of the enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) in the National Capital Region and the four adjacent provinces.
ECQ was lifted in the NCR and in four provinces last April 11. These areas were placed under modified ECQ (MECQ) until April 30.
ATA was enacted on July 3, 2020 and implemented 15 days later last July 18.
Last Feb. 2, the SC started conducting oral arguments on the 37 petitions which have been consolidated into one case. Since then, only the petitioners have presented their arguments.
The arguments had been postponed several times due to the rising incidents of coronavirus disease (COVID-19) infections.
It will be the turn of the government, through the OSG, to present its arguments when the legal debates resume on April 27.
It is expected that OSG lawyers would be interpellated by the SC justices after the presentation of their arguments.
Thereafter, the SC may call its two appointed friends of the court – retired Chief Justice Reynato S. Puno and retired Associate Justices Francis H. Jardeleza – to present their views which may help the High Court in resolving the issue.
Several petitioners have reiterated their pleas for the issuance of a temporary restraining order (TRO) that would stop immediately the implementation of ATA.
It was not known if the SC would tackle the reiterative motions for TRO immediately after the termination of the oral arguments.