The Supreme Court will limit the number of lawyers allowed to attend the oral arguments on the anti-terrorism law this month in compliance with the strict health protocols being implemented by the government due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
In an advisory released on Friday, the high court said only eight lawyers tasked to present the arguments of the petitioners will be allowed to be present at the en banc session hall on January 19.
The advisory also said only one lawyer for each of the 37 petitions, if they are not among the eight presenters, will be allowed to attend.
On the other hand, Solicitor General Jose Calida, who represents the government, may bring only up to three lawyers with him.
The high court also required all attendees to present a negative COVID-19 RTC-PCR test result taken within 72 hours before the oral arguments.
The lawyers of the petitioners will have 45 minutes to present their arguments on the issues related to the constitutionality of the anti-terrorism law. The high court justices will ask their questions after the presentation of each side.
The oral arguments will be conducted six months after the first petitions were filed.
The magistrates will hear the petitioners and the government’s arguments on whether the legislation violates several constitutional rights.
Among the petitioners against Republic Act 11479, or the Anti-Terrorism Act (ATA), are retired justices, lawmakers, activists, students, artists, journalists, labor groups and many others who raised concerns that the law could legitimize alleged state attacks against government critics and activists under the guise of an anti-terrorism campaign.