Still no anti-terror law TRO as Calida keeps deferring

Through several motions for extension to file the government's comment, Solicitor General Jose Calida has been able to defer action on the repeated pleas for injunction on the feared anti-terror law, records show.

What sounded like an urgent matter for the Supreme Court on February 16 has been stuck in these motions for extension, with the latest being a request by Calida to be given until April 23 to file their comment.

There's no update yet whether that latest request, filed on March 23, has been granted.

The feared law has been in effect for 8 months.

There have been repeated motions for a Temporary Restraining Order (TRO) since last year by the petitioners, but it reached a momentum during an oral argument session on February 16 when opposition lawmaker Edcel Lagman brought it up to the Court in person.

Lagman was required to turn his verbal motion into a written one, and Associate Justice Ramon Paul Hernando even said that both the written version and Calida's reply must be submitted the following Monday, February 22, so they could be immediately placed on the en banc agenda for Tuesday, February 23.

Lagman and the rest of the 36 other petitioner groups made their deadline, filing a joint reiterative motion on February 22 asking the Court to "urgently issue" the TRO. Calida didn't file his comment.

In a March 2 notice by the Court, the en banc said it would wait. "Before acting on the joint reiterative motion for TRO dated February 22 filed by counsels for petitioners, the Court resolved to await the comment of the Office of the Solicitor General thereon as required in open court on February 16, 2021," said the notice.

On March 15, Calida again asked for a 10-day extension, or to be given until March 24. 

"To date, however, the draft comment/opposition remains under preparation as the OSG is still coordinating with the respondents to get a full grasp of the facts with respect to the allegations asserted by petitioners," the OSG said on March 15.

On March 23, Calida again asked for an extension, this time a 30-day extension or until April 23, to be given time to answer as they are still "coordinating with the respondents."

"The OSG assures that the instant motion is not intended to delay but is prompted by the aforementioned circumstances and by a sincere desire to submit a responsive and comprehensive comment/opposition that will aid this Honorable Court resolving the present matter," said Calida.

Parlade made 'threatening' Facebook post in personal capacity

The OSG did file an answer to the manifestation by petitioners about threats on Facebook made by Lieutenant General Antonio Parlade Jr.

The OSG said the Facbook post is not the official statement of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) nor of the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC).

"It can be deduced from the foregoing that the subject Facebook post was posted by Parlade in his personal capacity and not as an officer from the security sector of the government," said the OSG.

"Accordingly, the AFP and the NTF-ELCAC have no policy against any dissenters of any law enacted and being implemented by the government," said the OSG.

"There can be no violation of the Bill of Rights when committed by a private individual," the OSG added.

Rappler.com

Lian Buan

Lian Buan covers justice and corruption for Rappler. She is interested in decisions, pleadings, audits, contracts, and other documents that establish a trail. If you have leads, email lian.buan@rappler.com or tweet @lianbuan.

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