Courts in areas under general community quarantine (GCQ) and modified GCQ (MGCQ) are open with 50 per cent of court personnel physically reporting for work.
However, court hearings and other processes which may need the physical presence of litigants should be conducted online via video conferencing.
Based on President Duterte’s announcement, areas under GCQ until June 15 are the National Capital Region (NCR) and Laguna, Cavite, Bulacan and Rizal – known as NCR plus bubble.
Other areas under GCQ until June 30 are Baguio City, Kalinga, Mountain Province, Abra, Isabela, Nueva Vizcaya, Quirino, Batangas, Quezon, Iligan City, Davao City, Lanao del Sur and Cotabato City.
But courts in areas under enhanced community quarantine (ECQ), as declared by local government units (LGUs), and modified ECQ (MECQ) are still physically closed and may be reached through their hotlines and email addresses listed in the Supreme Court’s (SC) website – sc.judiciary.gov.ph.
Based on the Presidential directive, areas under MECQ until June 15 are Santiago City in Isabela, Cagayan, Apayao, Benguet, Ifugao, Puerto Princesa City, Iloilo City, Zamboanga City, Zamboanga Sibugay, Zamboanga del Sur, Zamboanga del Norte, Cagayan de Oro City, Butuan City, and Agusan del Sur.
The rest of the country is under MGCQ until June 30.
An earlier circular issued by Chief Justice Alexander G. Gesmundo stated that trial court judges in GCQ and MGCQ areas “may conduct fully remote video conferencing hearings with notice to the Office of the Court Administrator provided they will be within their respective judicial territorial region.”
Last May 31, a circular issued by Court Administrator Jose Midas P. Marquez with the approval of Chief Justice Gesmundo stated that based on the “request of some judges and court personnel and in consideration of their health and safety, as well as the court users” trial court judges may conduct fully-remote video conferencing on hearings “regardless of their physical location in the country with notice to the Office of the Court Administrator.”
Chief Justice Gesmundo reminded all justices, judges, court personnel, and court users to observe strictly safety and health protocols.