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Guevarra: Gov’t not delaying oral arguments on anti-terror law

JUSTICE Secretary Menardo Guevarra has denied insinuations the government was using ‘delaying tactics’ on the oral arguments into several petitions challenging the constitutionality of the Anti-Terrorism Act of 2020.

Guevarra issued the statement following the Supreme Court’s (SC) order resetting the oral arguments from January 19 to February 2, 2021.

I don’t think so. We’re just talking about a few days here, not weeks or months,” Guevarra said when asked if the government was delaying the oral arguments.

It’s just a matter of a few days. More time for everyone to prepare too,” he continued.

Last Friday, the high court’s Office of the Clerk of Court came up with a notice informing parties that the scheduled oral arguments was reset from its original date of January 19 to February 2, 2021.

This was after the SC granted the ‘meritorious’ request for postponement by the Office of the Solicitor General after an assistant solicitor general and some staff who will attend the oral arguments have tested positive for COVID-19.

At least 37 petitions have been filed before the high tribunal questioning the legality, in whole or in part, of the hugely-controversial legislation.

President Rodrigo Duterte signed a stricter anti-terrorism law, condemned by critics and rights groups as a weapon to target opponents and stifle free speech.

Duterte has defended the law, saying law-abiding citizens should not fear as it targets terrorists including communist insurgents.

The highly contested provisions of the law are the following:

• section 4 – definition of Terrorism;

• section 5 – the threat to commit terrorism;

• section 6 – planning, training, preparing and facilitating the commission of terrorism;

• section 9 – inciting to commit terrorism;

• section 10 – recruitment to and membership in a terrorist organization;

• section 11 – foreign terrorist;

• section 12 – providing material support to terrorists.

• section 25 – designation of terrorist individual, groups of persons, organizations or associations;

• section 26 – proscription of terrorist organizations, associations or group of persons;

• section 27 – preliminary order of proscription

• section 29 – detention without judicial warrant of arrest.