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Lawyers oppose SolGen’s move asking SC to cancel oral arguments on Anti-Terror Law petitions

The Office of the Solicitor General (OSG) shouldn’t have asked the Supreme Court (SC) to cancel the oral arguments on the petitions challenging the constitutionality of the Anti-Terrorism Act of 2020, an organization of lawyers said.

“It would then be a bad precedent to cancel the putative oral arguments in any form. To do so, particularly because of the sheer unprecedented number of petitions and the transcendental import of the assailed law on everybody, will not be in the overwhelming public interest,” National Union of People’s Lawyers (NUPL) president Edre Olalia said.


Olalia, who is also the legal counsel of a number of the petitioners, said the cancellation of the oral arguments will “deprive the Court of the immense value and benefit of an interactive, spontaneous, and public process.”

The lawyer reacted to the motion which the OSG filed before the SC on Monday, Aug. 24, which asked the high court to cancel the September oral arguments of the petitions, even if it is done through videoconferencing, due to health and safety concerns over the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic.

The OSG instead recommended that the SC allow the parties to submit memorandum that “serves to augment the parties’ position on issues” and have the parties submit replies to “clarificatory questions” of magistrates of the high tribunal.

“The otherwise valid concerns over the pandemic and mass gatherings ring hollow when the public is taunted by contemptible double standards in favor of those who are in good graces with the government,” Olalia said.

He also said it is still premature for the OSG to seek the cancellation of the oral arguments.

“It is premature because while there has been an announcement that oral arguments will be held, the date/s and the modalities or parameters – extraordinary perhaps but presumably realistic and creative – have not been determined and are still uncertain,” he said.

“Besides, to ask for the cancellation of an event that is still indefinite would be jumping the gun, so to speak, and may even impact on the judicial discretion and prerogative of the Court,” Olalia added.

“This is especially so as several other petitions have since been serially filed and have not, to our knowledge, been acted upon,” he said.

Source: Manila Bulletin (

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