SC denies petition of 2 Aetas seeking help vs anti-terror law
MANILA, Philippines — The Supreme Court has unanimously denied the petition-in-intervention filed by two Aetas seeking to join the call to declare the controversial Anti-Terrorism Act of 2020 as unconstitutional, Chief Justice Diosdado Peralta disclosed Tuesday.
Peralta made the announcement during the resumption of the oral arguments on the Anti-Terrorism Act.
“The petition for intervention filed by the would-be intervenors has been unanimously denied by us this morning,” Peralta said, referring to the petition filed by Japer Gurung and Junior Ramos.
Gurung and Ramos are deemed to be the first-known case of the anti-terror law.
In their petition, the two Aetas said they are lowly farmers tilling their small farms and foraging banana blossoms for a living. During a firefight on Aug. 21, 2020, they left their home with their families to ride a boat to a nearby evacuation center in Barangay Buhawen in Zambales.
However, the Aetas said soldiers stopped them, telling them about their safety, but later they were arrested for allegedly being members of the New People’s Army (NPA) who were trying to escape.
While in detention, Gurung said they were tortured to force an admission that they were members of the NPA, to which he did not budge.
After six days, they were charged with violation of the Anti-Terror Law and Illegal Possession of Firearms.
Peralta disclosed the denial of the petition in response to Solicitor General Jose Calida claiming that the Aetas are now withdrawing their petition.
At the beginning of the oral arguments, Calida said there is a “supervening event” that will affect not only the continuance of the oral argument, but the resolution of the pending resolutions against the anti-terror law.
Calida said Gurung and Ramos executed a “Pinagsamang Salaysay ng Pag-uurong” or an affidavit of desistance.
Citing the affidavit, Calida said the Aetas are now represented by the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples (NCIP) and the Public Attorneys Office (PAO).
The Aetas were previously represented by the National Union of Peoples Lawyers (NUPL)
The Solicitor General, still citing the affidavit, also said the Aetas did not want to sign the petition and that they were only forced to do so.
It was at this time that Peralta chimed in and disclosed that the petition for intervention was already denied on Tuesday morning.
“If you want to push through with what you want to manifest to us this afternoon. I believe you put that in writing so that the other party can comment later on so we can proceed with oral arguments this afternoon,” Peralta said.
Former Bayan Muna Rep. Neri Colmenares, meanwhile, questioned Calida’s allegations, saying they were not aware of such an incident.
“I just like to react about this latest development alleging that lawyers of NUPL forced the intervenors. In the first place, we are not aware of this latest development but it is really strange why lawyers can force a detainee inside a PNP camp? That’s really outrageous,” Colmenares said.
“And secondly, we would like to inquire from lawyers… whether when the respondents talked to the petitioners, was there counsel also at that time? Because it seems we are really unaware of this,” he added.
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