SC wraps up debate with show cause vs one of Anti-Terror Law petitioners
MANILA, Philippines–The Supreme Court has concluded the oral argument on the petitions against the Anti-Terrorism Act of 2020 (ATA) not with a restraining order but with a show cause order against one of the petitioners for a social media post.
“The Court also resolved that a show cause order be issued to Attorney [Theodore] Te for his statement post-hearing last time, which was posted in the social media,” Chief Justice Alexander Gesmundo announced Monday, the last day of oral argument.
Te, in his now-deleted post, said that “perhaps the Court could have previewed the videos first for relevance and also for authenticity, and then made a determination if it should be played in open session with annotation. But it was also uncontested annotation of the videos that was so grossly unfair and prejudicial. It amounted to direct examination testimony of a witness not placed under oath and not allowed to be cross-examined.”
Te, who is part of the Free Legal Assistance Group is among the 37 petitioners questioning the constitutionality of the Anti-Terrorism Act.
This is the first time that the high court has issued a show-cause order against any of the parties. The show-cause order was also issued by the high court on its own.
Previously, Anti-Terror Law petitioners have filed several motions to stop the implementation of the law while the case is still being deliberated and remains pending at the high court.
Last March, the petitioners filed a joint manifestation reiterating their call for a restraining order following the attack on Atty. Angelo Karlo Guillen, counsel in one of the 37 petitions against ATA. Guillen was assaulted in Iloilo City last March 3
They also mentioned threats against other petitioners, members of the media covering the judiciary as well as the arrests and deaths of activists subject to search warrants over their alleged links to the communist movement.
Aside from the joint manifestation, there are other reiterative motions filed seeking issuance of a temporary restraining order (TRO) against ATA.
One of the motions was filed last February. It cited the arrest of Chad Errol Booc, a volunteer teacher, and Windel Bolinget, chair of the Cordillera People’s Alliance which is one of the ATA petitioners, at the retreat house of the University of San Carlos in Cebu City for allegedly “recruiting and exploiting minors to be trained as child warriors.”
Petitioners also called the high court’s attention to actions of the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC) spokespersons who have been tagging in social media not only the petitioners but celebrities, journalists, advocates as having ties with the communists.
The Anti-Terrorism Act has been in effect for 10 months, to date, among those charged are two Aetas in Zambales, a 62-year-old woman, and another pregnant woman in Sorsogon.
The Anti-Terrorism Council has also designated 19 members of the Communist Party of the Philippines’ Central Committee and 10 members of local terror groups in Mindanao.
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