All courts and judicial offices in the National Capital Region (NCR) will be physically closed starting Monday, Aug. 2, until Aug. 20 with the declaration that the area is under general community quarantine (GCQ) with heightened restrictions until Aug. 5 and, thereafter, under enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) until Aug. 20.
In an administrative circular issued by Chief Justice Alexander G. Gesmundo last July 30, all physically-closed courts will operate online and conduct video conferencing “only for urgent incidents and cases” which will be acted upon within 24 hours from filing.
Among the “urgent incidents and cases” mentioned in the circular are those involving applications for bail, releases due to dismissal of cases or acquittals, habeas corpus petitions, and applications for temporary protection orders for Violence Against Women and Children under Republic Act No. 9262.
The circular states: “The time for filing and service of pleadings and motions during this period (Aug. 2 to 20) is suspended and shall resume after seven calendar days counted from the first day of the physical reopening of the relevant courts.”
It also states that physically-closed courts may be contacted through their hotlines and e-mail addresses as posted in the Supreme Court’s (SC) website – sc.judiciary.gov.ph.
Covered by the circular in the NCR are all trial courts, Supreme Court, Court of Appeals, Court of Tax Appeals, and Sandiganbayan.
Also covered by the circular on physical closure of courts are other areas under ECQ and modified ECQ (MECQ).
Under ECQ until Aug. 7 are Gingoog City, Iloilo City, Iloilo province and Cagayan de Oro City. Areas under MECQ until Aug. 15 are Ilocos Norte, Bataan, Cebu City, Cebu province, Mandaue City, and Lapu-lapu City.
In areas under GCQ, “with or without heightened restrictions,” and those under modified GCQ (MGCQ), courts and judicial offices will be open with skeletal workforce ranging from 25 to 50 percent reporting physically for work.
Those not included in the skeletal workforce for the day should work from home.
Chief Justice Gesmundo said that the operations of courts nationwide are adjusted “to avert the possible surge in COVID-19 cases due to the Delta variant.”
He assured that despite the pandemic, all courts nationwide are operating to act and resolve all cases brought before them.