Philippine anti-terrorism law

HIGHLIGHTS: Supreme Court oral arguments on anti-terror law

HIGHLIGHTS: Supreme Court oral arguments on anti-terror law


The Supreme Court finally hears the petitions against the anti-terror law, the pet law of President Rodrigo Duterte that is seen to further endanger human rights in the Philippines.

The petitioners, represented by top legal minds of the country, will face off against Solicitor General Jose Calida, who has consistently used unconventional maneuvers to win cases before the High Court.

The debate will focus on the purpose of the anti-terror law and how it possibly violates the Constitution and other existing laws.

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No Esperon in open court, show cause order issued vs lawyer Ted Te

Lian Buan

Day 9 opened with pressing announcements from the Supreme Court: National Security Adviser Hermogenes Esperon Jr will no longer be interpellated in open court. 

Questions posed to him will be answered in a written memorandum. Formally, the Supreme Court merely required Esperon and the government lawyers to comment on a joint motion by petitioners to expunge his earlier testimony from the court’s records.

Chief Justice Alexander Gesmundo also announced a show cause order issued against petitioner and counsel Ted Te, former spokesperson of the Court, for  “his statement post-hearing last time which was posted on social media.”

Te had tweeted last week, but deleted them a while after, about how Esperon’s red-tagging in open court was ironic since red-tagging is a risk complained about by the petitions.

There is a gag order from the Supreme Court, barring the petitioners from discussing the anti-terror law while it is being heard.

Day 9 of oral arguments begins on a tense note

Lian Buan

Tense from the past week of new terror designations of peace consultants, the Supreme Court resumes oral arguments on Monday, May 17, picking an unusual schedule in an attempt to wrap the hearings this week before the justices go on their yearly writing break.

Petitioners filed an urgent joint motion second week of May to not recall National Security Adviser Hermogenes Esperon Jr, saying his red-tagging in open court on Day 8 was a “supreme irony.” Petitioners also requested to expunge or strike all of Esperon’s testimonies off the record.

Rappler learned that even though Monday is not an en banc session day, justices discussed the joint motion before the oral arguments.

Follow this live blog for updates.

Chief Justice Gesmundo to OSG lawyer: Were you not briefed? Sip water.

Lian Buan

It was his first time to interpellate in oral arguments as the top magistrate, and Chief Justice Alexander Gesmundo did it markedly – scolding a government lawyer for not being adequately briefed.

“The primer tells us that for the purposes of oral arguments, there are 3 things you must consider: First, you must be cool; second, you must be composed; and third, collected. Were you not briefed on that?” Gesmundo asked Assistant Solicitor General Marissa dela Cruz-Galandines on Wednesday, May 11, for Day 8 of the anti-terror law oral arguments.

Galandines had been noticeably aggressive in her tone towards justices in the recent days of anti-terror law oral arguments, which could be where Gesmundo was coming from.

“We were not briefed on that, your honor,” Galandines said softly.

Read more here.

‘Dangerous’: OSG says council can prolong jail time for non-terror offense

Lian Buan

Day 8 of the Supreme Court oral arguments on the anti-terror law pushed the government lawyers to reveal that the anti-terror council could have the power to order the prolonged detention of a person with suspected association to a terror group, even if that person’s offense is not terrorism.

Senior Associate Justice Estela Perlas-Bernabe called this power “very dangerous.”

Read more here.

At SC, Esperon red-tags progressives and warns of new terror designations

Lian Buan

Only a day after exhaustive lectures on the complexities of communism and why it’s harmful to red-tag, National Security Adviser Hermogenes Esperon Jr was allowed by the Supreme Court to red-tag progressive groups in open court Wednesday, May 12, during Day 8 of the anti-terror law oral arguments.

Esperon also announced that the anti-terror council would make new terror designations, not of groups but individuals supposedly connected to the Communist Party of the Philippines-New Peoples’ Army (NPA). The designation could be published as early as Thursday, May 13.

Read more here.

Justice Carandang: Is there not McCarthyism here?

Lian Buan

National Security Adviser Hermogenes Esperon Jr was finally called to the Supreme Court during Day 8 of the anti-terror law oral arguments on Wednesday, May 12.

The first question came from the case lead, Justice Rosmari Carandang: Is there not McCarthyism here?

McCarthyism was a social phenomenon in the United States in the 1950s, also called as the Red Scare, and refers to the practice of accusing people of subversion or treason as connected to communism.

Esperon said, “Perhaps there are similarities.”

It was Chief Justice Alexander Gesmundo who asked this question first, addressed to Assistant Solicitor General Marissa dela-Cruz Galandines.

“Do you not agree that is the situation now in our country?” asked Gesmundo.

But Galandines said the government does not red-tag, but “truth-tags.”