No delaying tactics on anti-terror law oral arguments — DOJ
MANILA, Philippines — The Department of Justice on Saturday denied that the government is using “delaying tactics” on the Supreme Court’s oral arguments on the petitions questioning the legality of the controversial Anti-Terrorism Act of 2020.
“I don’t think so. We’re just talking about a few days here, not weeks or months,” Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra said in a message to reporters when asked if there is a deliberate move to delay the oral arguments which were reset to Feb. 2.
Guevarra added that the postponement of the oral arguments will also give “more time for everyone to prepare.”
The High Court earlier approved the request of Solicitor General Jose Calida to reschedule the oral arguments on the anti-terror law petitions. Calida requested the resetting of the oral arguments, saying that his assistant solicitor-general and some staffers who would attend the debate have tested positive for Covid-19.
In a separate statement, Lawyer Howard Calleja, one of the first petitioners against the anti-terror law, hoped the oral arguments will finally start on Feb. 2.
“However, we hope that the oral arguments and the case as a whole should proceed accordingly therefore the resetting to Feb. 2 should be honored and we look forward to finally present our case to the court come Feb. 2 and pray for a positive and speedy disposition on this case and uphold the Constitution and our rule of law,” he said, adding that he respects the High Court’s decision.
Calleja also said he wishes for the safety and good health of Calida’s staffers who contracted Covid-19.
In 2020, the high court set the oral arguments on Jan. 19, 2021.
To date, there are 37 petitions against the controversial anti-terror law, which critics fear might be abused to silence dissent.
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