SC to hold 1st online session on Friday

April 15, 2020

SUPREME Court Public Information Office chief Brian Keith Hosaka yesterday disclosed that the high court en banc will hold its first online session this Friday.

In a message to reporters, Hosaka however wasn't certain what cases would be tackled by the SC, which cancelled sessions  the past weeks amid the coronavirus outbreak in the country.

"Atty. Ed Aricheta, the Clerk of Court En Banc, confirms the meeting of the Supreme Court En Banc on April 17, 2020. However, I am not privy as to the agenda for the said meeting," Hosaka said.

He issued the statement when asked if the SC would meet this Friday to tackle the petition of human rights groups seeking the release of sick and old prisoners vulnerable to COVID-19.

A source disclosed that the high court would also resolve ancillary matters involving the quo warranto petition against television giant ABS-CBN.

Recently, a group of prisoners petitioned the SC for the release of 23 elderly, sick, or pregnant political prisoners scattered in overcrowded prison facilities in the country, claiming their present medical and physical conditions made them vulnerable to the dreaded novel coronavirus.

In a petition, the prisoners urged the high court to order their release on humanitarian grounds through bail or recognizance.

At the same time, they urged the SC to likewise order the release of similarly-situated prisoners who were not included or named in the petition.

"While they are charged with common crimes, the arrest, detention and charges against the petitioners are due to their political beliefs. They are not hardened criminals. They will not evade trial nor flee from the charges," it continued.

The petition claimed that most of the signatories have diabetes, hypertension, and/or other ailments. Also, one of them has leprosy, while another is pregnant.

They pointed out that their continued detention is "tantamount to cruel and unusual punishment, which the 1987 Constitution explicitly prohibits."