Starting Monday, May 17, trial courts in the National Capital Region (NCR) and in the provinces of Laguna, Cavite, Bulacan and Rizal will be physically open with at least 30 to at most 50 per cent of total personnel in their offices.
The Supreme Court (SC), in a circular issued by Chief Justice Alexander G. Gesmundo, said all trial courts in other areas under general community quarantine (GCQ) will also be physically open.
Also physically open are the appellate courts – Court of Appeals, Court of Tax Appeals and the Sandiganbayan – except the SC.
Areas under GCQ from May 15 to 31, aside from NCR and its four adjacent provinces, are Apayao, Baguio City, Benguet, Kalinga, Mt. Province, Abra, Cagayan, Isabela, Nueva Vizcaya, Batangas, Quezon, Puerto Princesa City, Iligan City, Davao City, and Lanao del Sur.
In areas under enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) and modified ECQ (MECQ), trial courts will still be physically closed and hearings and other court processes should be done online through video conferencing, the circular stated.
Areas under MECQ are Santiago City in Isabela, Quirino, Ifugao, and Zamboanga City. There are also areas under ECQ declared by local government units.
Trial court judges in GCQ areas “may conduct fully remove video conferencing hearings with notice to the Office of the Court Administrator provided they will be within their respective judicial territorial region,” it stated.
“All justices, judges, court personnel, and court users are reminded to continue to strictly observe safety protocols,” it also stated.