MANILA - The Supreme Court has denied the last minute plea of the Office of the Solicitor General to cancel oral arguments on the petitions against the Anti-Terrorism Act scheduled on Tuesday, January 19.
In a resolution dated January 12, a portion of which was shown to ABS-CBN News by one of the petitioners, the Supreme Court denied the prayer for cancellation of the oral arguments contained in the OSG’s urgent partial motion for reconsideration filed on January 11.
The OSG’s motion was in response to the January 5 advisory issued by the high court which confirmed that the oral arguments would push through.
Solicitor General Jose Calida had moved for the cancellation of the oral arguments citing the coronavirus pandemic.
He said it would be impossible to observe “social distancing” during the oral arguments involving 37 petitions and that public gatherings would violate quarantine protocol.
But the Supreme Court decided to push through with the oral arguments, adopting several measures such as limiting the number of physical attendees and requiring RT-PCR tests for those who will attend, including the media.
The SC required only 8 lawyers to argue on behalf of the petitioners, with the others whose counsels are not arguing allowed to send 1 lawyer-representative.
Petitioners submitted 13 names on Wednesday — 7 lawyers led by former Solicitor General Jose Anselmo Cadiz, who will principally argue for petitioners with 6 alternates.
Each side was given 45 minutes to make their pitch.
The SC initially allowed only 3 lawyers to accompany Calida but in its latest resolution, it expanded that number to 6, including the solicitor general.
The Anti-Terrorism Act is one of the most contentious laws passed in recent years, with various groups coming together to challenge the constitutionality of the anti-terrorism measure.
Oral arguments are scheduled to start on January 19 at 2 p.m.