OSG hits ex-chief for ‘malicious’ remark on SC deferral of anti-terror law oral debates
MANILA, Philippines — The Office of the Solicitor General (OSG) has called out its former boss, lawyer Florin Hilbay, for his statements on the postponement of the Anti-Terrorism Act’s oral arguments.
Current Solicitor General Jose Calida has asked the Supreme Court to reset oral arguments on the anti-terrorism law as some OSG staff involved in the case got infected with SARS-COV-2, the new coronavirus that causes COVID-19.
On Monday, OSG said Hilbay’s supposedly “malicious tweet” minimizes the serious threats of the COVID-19 pandemic as well as the “wisdom of the Supreme Court” in granting Calida’s petition.
Hilbay tweeted last Friday that it is sad the government’s top lawyer — Calida — cannot argue an important case just because some of the other OSG personnel got infected with the virus.
“Florin Hilbay’s malicious tweet last January 15 downplays not only the wisdom of the Supreme Court in postponing the Oral Arguments but also the serious threats posed by the COVID-19 pandemic,” OSG said in a statement.
“Unlike Hilbay, the Solicitor General takes the COVID-19 pandemic seriously and will not give the virus a chance to compromise the health of the attendees of the Oral Arguments, especially the Justices of the Supreme Court. His tweet, then, borders on being insensitive, if not outright contemptuous,” OSG added.
The oral arguments on the Anti-Terrorism Act of 2020 would have started on Tuesday, January 19, but Calida sought a reset because an Assistant Solicitor General and his personnel contracted the new coronavirus.
OSG even announced the temporary closure of its offices until January 20 to allow disinfection. It also shifted to online transactions for the time being.
In his tweet, Hilbay compared Calida to a law student who would find an excuse not to recite.
this should make everyone pause and reflect w sadness. the chief lawyer of the nation can't argue an important case bec some assistants are (allegedly) sick. and the supreme court finds the request meritorious.ADVERTISEMENT
parang law student na ayaw mag recite dahil walang "radyo." https://t.co/YJ4Sc7ZZyd
— Pilo Hilbay (@fthilbay) January 15, 2021
But OSG stressed it sought for a reset only to prevent a community transmission of the disease, adding that it is offensive for someone like Hilbay, who previously headed the same office, to insinuate such issues.
“For Hilbay to insinuate (1) that the OSG is making-up this unfortunate event, (2) that the Solicitor General is unable to argue based on this event, and (3) that the testing of an Assistant Solicitor General who is tasked to argue on various issues, positive for COVID-19 is not meritorious enough to postpone the oral arguments, is not only offensive and demoralizing to the institution that he once led, but also highlights his utter insensitivity to the gravity of the situation faced by the OSG,” it said.
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