The Supreme Court has finally set the oral arguments for the 37 petitions against the anti-terror law on January 19, 2021.
The advisory was sent to the petitioners on Friday, November 20, identifying the main issues to be argued during the oral arguments.
Among the issues to be argued, according to the advisory, was whether the Supreme Court should issue a Temporary Restraining Order (TRO) against the law.
Petitioners have been filing reiterative motions back and forth, trying to convince the Court that the Supreme Court must issue a TRO immediately without having to wait for the oral arguments.
In the Cybercrime Law, the Supreme Court issued a TRO within a month of effectivity. The oral arguments were held only 3 months after.
National Union of Peoples’ Lawyers (NUPL) president Edre Olalia said he hoped that no “onslaught” happens while they wait for the oral arguments.
“Given that the question of a TRO has been tabled as a preliminary issue until January 19, 2021, we entertain the apprehension that meanwhile no further onslaughts on basic rights happen considering the current intensifying political weaponization of the law,” Olalia said.
Two Aetas in Zambales have already been charged for terrorism under the feared law. They are still detained.
Religious group Rural Missionaries of the Philippines (RMP) has also lost access to its bank accounts, cutting it off to millions worth of international funding for its grassroots projects for the rural poor. The Anti-Money Laundering Council (AMLC) froze its accounts for alleged terrorism financing.
The lawyers for the 37 petitions were “directed to coordinate with each other” and to tell the Court which of them would argue each issue or group of issues. Solicitor General Jose Calida could bring not more than 3 lawyers with him to argue the government’s side.
Chief Justice Diosdado Peralta had earlier said that the technique for an orderly hearing would be to group common issues in the petition and assign only one lawyer to argue for all petitioners on that issue.
The oral arguments will start 2 pm. As per the advisory, the oral arguments will be in person at the en banc session hall in the Supreme Court in Manila.