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Anti-terror law oral arguments reset after Calida’s staff contract COVID-19

Anti-terror law oral arguments reset after Calida's staff contract COVID-19
File photo shows Supreme Court building in Manila. 

MANILA, Philippines — The Supreme Court postponed the oral arguments on the Anti-Terrorism Act after staff of Solicitor General Jose Calida caught the coronavirus disease.

“Considering the meritorious request of Solicitor General Jose Calida that his assistant solicitor general and some staff who will attend the oral arguments have been tested positive for COVID-19… the oral arguments is reset to Feb. 2, 2021 at 2:30 p.m.,” the statement signed by Clerk of Court Edgar Aricheta read.

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The oral arguments on Republic Act 11479 were originally scheduled on January 19, Tuesday, more than six months since President Rodrigo Duterte signed the measure.

“No further postponement will be allowed,” the clerk of court said.

The petitioners and Calida, representing government officials named as respondents, are given 45 minutes each to present their arguments.

Thirty-seven petitions were filed to challenge the constitutionality of the controversial anti-terrorism law. Former Solicitor General Jose Anselmo Cadiz will lead the group of eight lawyers who will principally argue for the petitioners.

Human rights defenders, lawyers, environmentalists and other critics of the legislation stressed the broadness and vagueness of definition of terrorism could be used to silence dissent and members of the opposition.

Since the law’s enactment in July last year, two Aetas have been charged for supposed violation of the measure and the Anti-Money Laundering Council has been empowered to freeze assets related to the Communist Party of the Philippines and its armed wing New People’s Army, which the Anti-Terrorism Council has designated as terrorists. — Gaea Katreena Cabico with report from Kristine Joy Patag

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