MANILA – Solicitor General Jose Calida on Monday filed urgent motion, asking the Supreme Court (SC) to consider alternatives to the conduct of oral arguments initially set on end of September.
Calida proposed alternatives as he “respectfully move” for the cancellation of the scheduled oral arguments “in view of the logistical restrictions and health threats” posed by the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) pandemic as well as provisions of “internal rules of SC and pertinent jurisprudence”.
He said there are “other viable alternatives to oral arguments”.
Calida said the conduct of oral arguments via videoconference would also “require people to gather in a confined space and, in turn, violate the prohibition against mass gathering”.
“Note as well that some of these individuals are over 60 years old, who, according to the IATF (Inter-Agency Task Force), are even required to remain in their residences at all times,” he said.
He added the oral arguments “would also undermine the efforts” of the Office of the Solicitor General (OSG) to mitigate, if not prevent, any potential localized transmission of the virus”.
Despite strict implementation of health measures within the OSG premises, he said at least 14 employees have contracted Covid-19.
As alternatives, Calida asked the SC to consider the submission of pleadings or for the SC to issue a resolution containing justices’ clarificatory questions and written opening statements.
Last week, former Solicitor General Estelito Mendoza petitioned the SC to be allowed to comment on the numerous suits, claiming there is no actual case involving the anti-terror law that would merit the court’s attention.
There are 29 petitions filed seeking to junk the anti-terrorism law. The high court earlier said it would hold oral arguments on the numerous petitions in September.
President Rodrigo Duterte, on July 3, signed Republic Act No. 11479, or the Anti-Terrorism Act of 2020, repealing the Human Security Act of 2007. (PNA)