The Supreme Court (SC) on Sunday, April 11, included Santiago City in Isabela and the provinces of Quirino and Abra in its order on the physical closure of all courts until April 18.
In a circular issued by Court Administrator Jose Midas P. Marquez, the physical closure of all court in the three areas was approved by Chief Justice Alexander G. Gesmundo.
Santiago City, Abra and Quirino – together with the National Capital Region and the provinces of Bulacan, Cavite, Laguna and Rizal – have been placed under the modified enhanced community quarantine (MECQ) starting April 12 until April 30.
NCR and its adjacent provinces had been placed under ECQ until Sunday, April 12. ECQ in these areas started last March 29.
Last Saturday, April 10, Chief Justice Gesmundo issued Administrative Circular No. 21-2021 which ordered the closure of all courts until April 18 in the NCR and its adjacent provinces. At the time of the issuance of the circular, these areas are still until ECQ.
It was not known immediately if the SC would issue another circular that would extend the closure of all courts in MECQ areas until April 30.
The SC said that courts which are physically closed may be reached through their hotlines and email addresses posted in the SC website – sc.judiciary.gov.ph.
“The courts in these areas shall continue to operate through video conferencing as far as practicable. Judges may conduct fully remote video conferencing hearings on pending cases and other matters, whether urgent or not, regardless of their physical location and without prior permission from the Office of the Court Administrator,” the circular stated.
It also stated that “the time for filing and service of pleadings and motions during this period is suspended and shall resume seven calendar days counted from the first day of physical reopening of the relevant court.”
But the circular said that “the essential judicial offices shall maintain the necessary skeleton staff to attend to all urgent matters.”