Lawyer appeals petition on disclosure of President’s health

A LAWYER appealed to the Supreme Court to reconsider its ruling junking the petition to compel President Rodrigo R. Duterte to disclose his health status. In a 49-page motion for reconsideration filed July 28, lawyer Dino S. de Leon said the high court made a “reversible error” when it ruled that the President is healthy “without sufficient basis” aside from his appearances in meetings. Mr. De Leon also asked the court to hold oral arguments on the case. He filed the petition in April and the court dismissed it in May. He said the court “overlooked” the fact that the lawsuit raised a “novel issue of paramount important” that is anchored on the President’s responsibility of disclosure under by the Constitution. “The duty of the President to disclose the status of his health is clearly of transcendental importance to the nation, as it involves no less than the public’s right to know if the President is still physically well and in possession of sufficient mental faculties to perform arduous task of leading the country at a time of a global pandemic,” the lawsuit read. “The haste with which the Honorable Court dismissed the Petition is a stark departure from its attitude towards novel petitions which raise serious questions and likewise goes against its duty to settle an actual controversy that involves a constitutional right,” it said.

Mr. De Leon said the court recognized the President’s public appearances but not considered  “the barely comprehensible chatters of the President himself.” He noted that in one of Mr. Duterte’s most recent appearances in Zamboanga City, he “looked sickly.” The President’s left eye “was again visibly drooping.” By rejecting the petition, he said, the court “took the cudgels to defend the Respondents” and denied Filipinos’ rights to hear the government’s side. “(I)t is submitted that the Honorable Court must at the very least grant due course to the Petition and let the People argue their case before its august chambers, prior to deciding on the matter with finality,” the lawsuit read. — Vann Marlo M. Villegas

Cebu youth groups file 20th case vs anti-terrorism law

YOUTH GROUPS from Cebu province in central Philippines questioned before the Supreme Court the validity of the law that expanded terror crimes, bringing the total lawsuits against the new legislation to 20. In a 70-page petition filed July 28, the groups, which include student council members, asked the court to issue a temporary restraining order against the implementation of the Anti-Terrorism Act and declare it unconstitutional. The petitioners said while they recognize the dangers of terrorism, there must be an “effective mechanism that will combat the crime. They said the provisions of the law “create a chilling effect on the many freedoms guaranteed no less by our Constitution.” The lawsuit says, “Protection of national security and public welfare must not be, and should never be, at the expense of our basic civil and political liberties.” They also asserted that the law violates freedom of speech and of expression, the right to peaceably assemble, citing the provision on inciting to terrorism. They added that the law violates the principle of separation of powers as the Anti-Terrorism Council, which will be made up of Cabinet members, will have the power to order arrest of persons. The law, which took effect on July 18, considers attacks that cause death or serious injury, extensive damage to property and manufacture, possession, acquisition, transport and supply of weapons or explosives as terrorist acts. It also allows the government to keep a suspect in jail without an arrest warrant for 14 days from three days previously. — Vann Marlo M. Villegas