On SolGen Calida’s manifestation during the oral arguments on the terror law at the Supreme Court

Solicitor General Jose Calida’s attempt at dropping a supposedly explosive bombshell during the oral arguments on the petitions against Duterte’s terror law — that the draconian law’s first victims, Aeta farmers Jasper Gurung and Junior Ramos, have supposedly withdrawn their petition for intervention before the Supreme Court — should raise eyebrows, suspicion, and above all, questions.

Were the Public Attorney’s Office and the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples able to explain in clear detail the charges Gurung and Ramos are currently facing as well as the implications of these charges being lodged by the military against them? By using the terror law, the military is accusing Gurung and Ramos of being terrorists, and their case as was documented hardly indicates any act that would make them liable for such charges.

Also, why now? The National Union of People’s Lawyers (NUPL) has been representing them ever since the charges were filed against them on September 14, 2020. Is it because the case of Gurung and Ramos and the suffering they endured will inevitably become the centerpoint of the oral arguments on the terror law — such that their case shows concretely the law’s dangers and why it should be junked?

Another set of questions worth pondering on: who actually coerced and forced whom?

Gurung and Ramos are detained inside a police detention facility where the police as well as other State forces can readily access them anytime. They suffered torture of the most inhumane kind to force them to admit to committing acts they did not commit, and their continued detention under these trumped-up charges certainly adds to such injury and coercive circumstances.

If there is anyone who coerced them into doing or signing anything, they are certainly not human rights lawyers of NUPL. 

The most important question would be: who benefits from this withdrawal of the petition for intervention? The answer is quite apparent — only those raring to use the draconian law with the intent to infringe on rights and liberties and quash political dissent will have the most to gain from this sleazy act.

Clearly and undeniably, Calida and his minions are moving to either cancel the oral arguments — as he has desperately attempted numerous times — or to discredit and even defame the petitioners with his allegations. We strongly urge the Supreme Court to not only take this tale with a heavy grain of salt but to scrutinize every single word and detail of Calida’s tale.

We cannot let meticulously constructed lies to stand as facts before the highest court of the land, more so to justify the invalidation of the people’s opposition to a draconian law that brazenly tramples upon our hard-won rights and freedoms.