MANILA – For the first time in history, Philippine Supreme Court magistrates will hold a virtual special en banc session on Friday to discuss petitions seeking the release of prisoners and President Rodrigo Duterte’s medical records.
“Atty. Ed Aricheta, the Clerk of Court En Banc, confirms the meeting of the Supreme Court En Banc on April 17, 2020,” SC spokesperson Brian Keith Hosaka told reporters in a message Wednesday.
Asked if this is the first time SC magistrates will hold an en banc session online, Hosaka said: “Yes, I believe it is the first time.”
"We still don’t know what platform will be used. Our MISO (Management Information System Office) is handling the technical aspect taking into consideration security concerns," he said.
The judiciary has been operating on a skeleton staff as Luzon and other parts of the country are under enhanced community quarantine to prevent the spread of the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19).
Hosaka could not disclose what SC magistrates will discuss as he is “not privy as to the agenda for the said meeting.”
But in a note to fellow high court justices dated April 14, a copy of which was shown to ABS-CBN News Wednesday, Chief Justice Diosdado Peralta announced the special en banc session at 10 a.m. on Friday to discuss the urgent petition for the release of prisoners on humanitarian grounds in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic and the petition urging the SC to compel the president to release his medical records.
On April 8, 22 inmates from different jails in Metro Manila asked the high court to allow their temporary release as they faced the threat of COVID-19 spreading in crowded jails.
Meanwhile, lawyer Dino de Leon on April 13 asked the Supreme Court to compel Duterte to disclose within 7 days his latest medical and psychological and psychiatric exam results, health bulletins, and other health records since he assumed office.
“The ponentes are requested to prepare their respective recommendations and submit and circulate the same to the justices not later than Thursday, April 16, in time for deliberation on Friday,” the Chief Justice said in the note to his colleagues.
No information was given as regards the status of the announcement of the 2019 Bar Exams results as well as the quo warranto petition filed by the Solicitor General against ABS-CBN Corp. and ABS-CBN Convergence, Inc. which was originally scheduled on April 14 during the Baguio City SC summer session.
The SC earlier cancelled the summer session, closed all courts and postponed all hearings amid the COVID-19 pandemic and the enhanced community quarantine imposed by the national government in Luzon, which was extended until April 30.