Mendoza bid as amicus curiae rejected

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    A GROUP led by retired Supreme Court justices Antonio Carpio and Conchita Carpio Morales has asked the Supreme Court to junked the bid of former solicitor general (solgen) Estelito Mendoza to be invited as amicus curiae or “friend of court” during oral arguments on petitions questioning the constitutionality of the controversial Anti-Terrorism Act of 2020.

    Another group of petitioners against Republic Act No. 11479, led by Senators Francis Pangilinan and Leila de Lima, also joined the opposition to Mendoza’s bid.

    Mendoza served as a solicitor general during the time of strongman Ferdinand Marcos. In a petition filed last month, he asked the Court to admit him as an amicus curiae and to dismiss all the petitions against the anti-terror law, now numbering at least 30.

    The Carpio-led group said Mendoza’s experience during the martial law years during which he defended arrests and detentions as solicitor general does not qualify him to be an amicus curiae in the case.

    The group also said Mendoza’s position calling for the junking of the petitions against the anti-terror law showed he is a friend of the respondents.

    They said Mendoza, by seeking the dismissal of the petitions against the anti-terror law, cannot act as an impartial friend of the court.

    They also said the SC has never allowed someone to invite himself or herself to be an amicus curiae.

    Joining Carpio and Morales in their original petition Jay Batongbacal, UP associate dean and director of the Institute for Maritime Affairs and Law of the Sea; Theodore Te, former SC public information officer and now UP Law professor; and lawyers Victoria Loanzon and Anthony Charlemagne Yu.

    Pangilinan’s group asked the SC to dismiss Mendoza’s bid saying it is more a “petition for intervention” which should be junked for failure to meet requirements.

    Pangilinan and De Lima’s co-petitioners against the measure are Quezon City Rep. Christopher Belmonte and 1987 Constitution framer Florangel Braid, among others.

    The Pangilinan group also joined the militant group Bayan Muna in opposing the bid of Solicitor General Jose Calida to have the oral arguments on the petitions against the anti-terror law canceled due to restrictions imposed to curb the spread of COVID-19.

    Like the previous opposition filed by the National Union of Peoples Lawyers, they said the SC “can impose minimum health standards” or even hold the proceedings via videoconferencing.

    The SC set the oral arguments sometime on the third week of September.

    Calida has said that instead of oral arguments, it would do better for the SC to hear the petitions through memoranda, clarificatory questionings and written opening statements.

    He said physical distancing would be near impossible to enforce during oral arguments inside the SC Session Hall with all the petitioners and their lawyers, the OSG lawyers and staff and representatives of the respondents.