The Supreme Court (SC) announced Sunday night, August 2, that all courts in the National Capital Region (NCR) and in areas under enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) and modified ECQ (MECQ) are physically closed starting Monday, August 3, until August 14.
The announcement was contained in an administrative circular issued by Chief Justice Diosdado M. Peralta dated Aug. 2, 2020. The circular took note of the “reported surge in COVID-19 cases.”
The circular stated that NCR courts and those in areas under ECQ or MECQ “shall only be reached through their respective hotline numbers, email addresses and/or Facebook accounts as posted on the website of the Supreme Court,” sc.judiciary.gov.ph.
It also stated that “all inquiries on cases or transactions, including requests for documents and services, shall be coursed and acted upon through the said numbers, addresses, and accounts of the concerned court, or through the Judiciary Public Assistance Section of the Supreme Court…”
“The raffle of cases in all courts shall proceed electronically or through video conferencing,” it added.
In the SC, the circular stated that the High Court’s full court and division sessions will be done through video conferencing and all essential offices and services should continue to operate with skeleton work force.
The Court of Appeals (CA), Sandiganbayan, and Court of Tax Appeals (CTA) will continue to receive petitions and pleadings electronically, resolve and decide pending cases, conduct hearings via video conferencing, and operate essential offices and services using skeletal staff.
Pleadings in trial courts in ECQ and MECQ areas should be filed electronically.
“All (trial) courts authorized to hear cases through video conferencing may conduct hearings through video conferencing in both criminal and civil cases upon joint motion of the parties, or upon orders of the court, without need of prior permission from the Office of the Court Administrator. In-court hearings may be conducted should the judge find them to be necessary,” the circular stated.
“For (trial) courts which are not authorized to conduct hearings through video conferencing, in-court hearings conducted by the presiding judge, assisted by the skeleton-staff, may be limited to urgent matters and other concerns to expedite the proceedings, both in criminal and civil cases,” it also stated.
Night courts and Saturday courts are suspended until Aug. 14, 2020.