Palace on petitions vs. Anti-Terrorism Law: Leave it to Supreme Court

Robie de Guzman   •   July 6, 2020   •   316

MANILA, Philippines – Malacañang will leave the Supreme Court (SC) to decide on petitions filed against the newly-signed Anti-Terrorism Law.

Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said the Palace will abide by whatever the ruling of the SC will be on petitions questioning the constitutionality of the measure.

“The Palace will leave it to the SC to decide on these petitions and will abide by whatever the ruling is,” he said in a statement Sunday.

The Republic Act No. 11479 or the Anti-Terrorism Act of 2020 was signed into law by President Rodrigo Duterte last Friday, July 3 despite strong opposition from various groups over concerns of possible violations of human rights.

On Monday, various groups physically trooped to the Supreme Court to urge it to stop the enforcement of the new law, claiming that the measure contained provisions that are in possible violation of the Philippine Constitution.

On Saturday, a group of lawyers and educators submitted the first petition against the controversial law.

Malacañang earlier said that prior to its signing, the measure underwent thorough review by the chief executive and his legal team.

Nevertheless, National Security Adviser Hermogenes Esperon said groups opposing the law have the right to lodge their petition against the law.

“Iyong sa pagkuwestiyon nila sa ating Anti-Terrorism Law sa Supreme Court ay karapatan nila; hindi natin pipigilan iyan at we’ll even encourage them,” he said.

Esperon also reiterated that the measure aims to stop those who threaten, proposed and incite terroristic acts, and not people who abide by the law or those who express dissent.

He likewise stressed that the law clearly defines who are those considered as terrorists, and this does not include activists or people who only voice out their concerns and criticisms over social injustices.

“Itong ating law-abiding citizen ay walang dapat ikatakot dahil itong Anti-Terrorism Law ay para sa kapakanan at para sa seguridad ng mga law-abiding citizens. Ito ay ginawa para labanan natin ang terorismo. Ngayon, kung sino ang nagsasabing ito ay para sa kanila at tahimik naman sila eh huwag silang mababahala,” Esperon said.

The Anti-Terrorism Council is set to convene to review the law and draft its implementing rules and regulations, which will be submitted to Congress. – RRD (with details from Correspondent Rosalie Coz)

81,888 PDLs released during COVID-19 pandemic — SC

Marje Pelayo   •   October 23, 2020

MANILA, Philippines — Chief Justice Diosdado Peralta has noted the use of technology, specifically video conferencing, in expediting the cases of persons deprived of liberty (PDLs) even amidst the prevailing coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic.

During Friday’s (October 23) ‘CJ Meets the Press’ briefing, Peralta reported that from March to October this year, a total of 81,888 PDLs had their cases resolved and been granted freedom.

The Chief Justice added that the majority of the more than 110,000 cases that they have deliberated on virtually were criminal cases.

The proceedings yielded 88% success rate and only 12% failed due to poor or intermittent Internet connection.

According to CJ Peralta, several PDLs were granted a reduced bail, particularly the indigent ones, to qualify for release while reading of sentence to minors was temporarily suspended.

“Napag-aralan namin na kakaunti lang makapag apply ng bail dahil karamihan dito ay mga indigent,” Peralta explained.

The decision to expedite the release of PDLs was to decongest jail facilities across the country where the risk of COVID-19 transmission is high.

Because at that time we felt na yung COVID-19 ay nag-i-spread na sa mga jails, not only in BJMP jails but also in provincial jails, municipal jails and detention centers ng ating mga pulis,” the official noted.

Of more than 28,000 employees of the Judiciary, 252 contracted COVID-19 which is only 1% of the government branch’s total employee population.

Meanwhile, Peralta said the Supreme Court is now looking into the delays in the processing of cases of more than 1,700 detained quarantine violators.

The Chief Justice stressed these violators shouldn’t stay long in detention as they can be released by just paying a penalty or fine. MNP (with reports from Rey Pelayo)

Duterte may create independent team to probe alleged corruption in DPWH – Palace

Robie de Guzman   •   October 22, 2020

MANILA, Philippines – President Rodrigo Duterte may form a separate task force to investigate the alleged widespread corruption within the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH), Malacañang said.

Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said the president would prefer an independent body although the task force created by the DPWH is a start.

DPWH Secretary Mark Villar earlier ordered the creation of a five-member task force to probe and file charges against officials and employees allegedly involved in the corrupt practices.

Roque, however, noted that some have raised doubt if it can succeed in exercising its functions as “it’s the same people investigating one another.”

The Palace also urged the public to give DPWH the chance to fight and rid the agency of corruption. – RRD (with details from Correspondent Rosalie Coz)

Supreme Court Chief Justice Peralta wants probe on ambush of CamSur Judge

Robie de Guzman   •   October 21, 2020

Supreme Court Chief Justice Diosdado Peralta

MANILA, Philippines – Supreme Court Chief Justice Diosdado Peralta has called on law enforcement agencies to immediately investigate and arrest those behind the attack on a Camarines Sur Regional Trial Court judge and her aide that left them injured.

“I strongly condemn the recent attack on Judge Jeaneth Gaminde-San Joaquin of Libmanan, Camarines Sur and her companion. I urge all law enforcement agencies to immediately investigate the matter and ensure that the perpetrators of this crime are apprehended,” Peralta said in a statement posted on Twitter.  

“An attack on our judges is an assault on the Rule of Law. This has no place in a civilized society like ours,” he stressed.

An initial police report showed that Camarines Sur Regional Trial Court Branch 26 Judge San Joaquin and a member of her staff, Rocelle Martinez were aboard their vehicle going to Naga City when they were attack by two unidentified gunmen.

The incident occurred on the afternoon of Oct. 20 in Barangay Puro Batia in Libmanan, Camarines Sur.

The two sustained injuries and were taken to a hospital for medical treatment.

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