The Supreme Court today is implementing strict health precautionary measures during the oral arguments on the petitions questioning Republic Act No. 11479, or the Anti-Terrorism Act of 2020, scheduled this afternoon.
All lawyers for the petitioners and the respondents were required to present a negative COVID-RT-PCR test result taken within 72 hours prior today in order to enter the SC premises. The same was required for members of the media who will cover the oral arguments.
Only eight lawyers from the petitioners and six from the Office of the Solicitor General will be allowed to argue inside the Session Hall. They will be seated accordingly with strict adherence to proper social distancing. Four podiums with acrylic dividers were also set-up inside the Session Hall to be used by the counsels when they argue. A total of 37 petitions questioning RA No. 11479 were filed.
The rest of the lawyers from both respective parties will be required to stay inside the three Division Conference Rooms where television monitors were set-up so they can monitor the oral arguments. They are on standby if and when they will be required to appear inside the Session Hall.
Aside from practicing social distancing, the wearing of appropriate facemasks (surgical facemask, N95, KN95) and face shields (clear and non-tinted) will also be strictly implemented.
The SC Security has also sought the assistance of the Philippine National Police to beef up security within the area. Padre Faura street was also closed to traffic today. For the media, they will be required to stay at the viewing area at the lobby of the SC New Building where a television monitor was set-up. For health and safety reasons, they will not be allowed to enter the Session Hall to take photos and videos and interview litigants and their counsels like in the previous oral arguments prior to the pandemic.