No more interpellation of Esperon as SC concludes anti-terrorism law oral arguments

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, May 17) - The Supreme Court on Monday decided not to continue the interpellation of National Security Adviser Hermogenes Esperon during the conclusion of the oral arguments on the anti-terrorism law.

Chief Justice Alexander Gesmundo, however, said that questions for Esperon shall be answered through memorandum.

“The court also decided not to continue the interpellation of Secretary Esperon based on the compliance that they have submitted earlier," Gesmundo said.

"Moreover, there are specific questions that the members of the court would like the respondent Secretary Esperon to respond [to],” the Chief Justice also said. “And the court will issue a resolution to that effect, incorporating the specific questions addressed to Secretary Esperon, which will be incorporated in the respondent’s memorandum.”

Petitioners earlier urged the High Court to cancel Esperon’s appearance in the oral arguments, citing his “red-tagging” during the debates. They also sought to delete Esperon's testimony from the records of the case.

Esperon bared during last week’s oral arguments that the government would release a list of designated terrorists. The Anti-Terrorism Council published the list the following day in a newspaper, led by Communist Party of the Philippines founder Jose Maria Sison.

Moreover, the SC has issued a show cause order against Theodore Te, one of the counsels to some of the petitioners, “for his statement post-hearing last time, which was posted in the social media.”

“Ironic that the red tagging was allowed in open session after the Chief Justice himself directly asked the OSG if what is happening now wasn’t reminiscent of McCarthyism,” Te, a former Supreme Court spokesperson, posted online after Esperon’s presentation.

“Perhaps the Court could have previewed the videos first for relevance and also for authenticity, and then made a determination if it should be played in open session with annotation," Te also said in his post. "But it was also the uncontested annotation of the videos that was so grossly unfair and prejudicial. It amounted to direct examination testimony of a witness not placed under oath and not allowed to be cross-examined.”

Te has already removed the post.