Supreme Court to hold oral arguments on anti-terror law

MANILA, Aug 11 (Mabuhay) — The Supreme Court (SC) will conduct oral arguments on the petitions challenging the Anti-Terrorism Act of 2020.

Court spokesman Brian Keith Hosaka said Tuesday that the SC will be hearing oral arguments on the case on the third week of September at the earliest.

It was not immediately known whether the oral arguments will be held physically or online.

Twenty-seven petitions were reported to have been filed against the controversial law, but the SC’s count was 25 as of Tuesday.

Hosaka said the court ordered the consolidation of the six latest petitions with the first 19 and directed the respondent government officials to file their comments within 10 days.

The petitions had asked the court to issue a temporary restraining order to prevent the enforcement of the law while the cases are pending, but a source said the tribunal will only decide whether to issue one after the comments are filed.

The anti-terrorism law was enacted despite concerns over its potential impact on human rights and with reassurances from its proponents that it does not target activists. It took effect last month.

In its comment to the first petitions, the Office of the Solicitor General, representing the government, said the petitioners relied “primarily on baseless allegations of vagueness of the law, unjustified fears of abuse, and imagined conjectures.”

Critics of the law alleged that it is unconstitutional for its “vague” definition of terrorism, provision on warrantless arrests and detention of up to 24 days, and supposed lack of parameters and safeguards against abuse, among others.

Retired SC justices Antonio Carpio and Conchita Carpio Morales, lawmakers, lawyers, professors, human rights advocates, activists, journalists, artists, labor rights groups, youth leaders, and social media personalities have filed petitions against the law. (MNS)

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