Supreme Court suspends anti-terror law oral arguments again

The Supreme Court (SC) suspended the oral arguments on the controversial anti-terror law once more as it ordered further disinfection of its premises.

"After consultation with the justices and chiefs of offices, a continuation of the disinfection, cleaning, and sanitation of the different buildings and offices of the Supreme Court is hereby ordered to be undertaken to minimize the possible spread of the [COVID-19] infection," the SC said in a statement on Sunday, March 14.

The next round of oral arguments was scheduled on Tuesday, March 16. The SC did not give a new date for the proceedings.

The suspension was announced amid a spike in COVID-19 cases in the Philippines, coinciding with the detection of different variants in the country.

The Tuesday session was highly anticipated as Solicitor General Jose Calida was expected to finally take the stand and defend the constitutionality of the law that has been questioned by the country's top legal minds, including two former SC justices.

This is the second time the SC has suspended the oral arguments, after the first suspension in February, when justices went on quarantine.

Most justices are near or above 60 years old, making them part of the most vulnerable age group at risk of contracting a serious case of COVID-19.

Meanwhile, offices in the SC compound are still required to maintain a 50% skeleton force to keep operations going, provided that they follow health protocols. –

Rambo Talabong

Rambo Talabong covers the House of Representatives and local governments for Rappler. Prior to this, he covered security and crime. He was named Jaime V. Ongpin Fellow in 2019 for his reporting on President Rodrigo Duterte’s war on drugs. In 2021, he was selected as a journalism fellow by the Fellowships at Auschwitz for the Study of Professional Ethics.