All courts in National Capital Region (NCR), in the provinces of Laguna, Cavite, Bulacan and Rizal, and in 14 other areas in the country under COVID-19 Alert Level 3 are physically closed starting Thursday, Jan. 13, until Jan. 31.
The order on physical closure of all courts – from the Supreme Court (SC) to the lowest court – was contained in a memorandum circular issued late Wednesday afternoon, Jan. 12, by Chief Justice Alexander G. Gesmundo in consultation with all SC justices.
The 14 other areas under Alert Level 3 are Baguio City in the Cordillera Administrative Region (CAR); Dagupan City in Region 1; City of Santiago and Cagayan in Region 2; Angeles City, Bataan, Olongapo City, Pampanga and Zambales in Region 3; Batangas and Lucena City in Region 4-A; Naga City in Region 5; Iloilo City in Region 6; and Lapu-lapu City in Region 7.
The circular stated that physically-closed courts may be contacted through their hotlines and email addresses posted in the SC website – sc.judiciary.gov.ph.
It also stated that in-court hearings in the affected courts are suspended but hearings via fully remote video conferencing may proceed on urgent matters such as inquests, bail petitions, promulgation of acquittals or dismissals in criminal cases, habeas corpus, violence against women and children, and election-related cases.
“Judges are encouraged to examine the possibility of bail or recognizance for violations of ordinances or appropriate crimes,” it said.
Also, Gesmundo’s circular reiterated its previous order on the extension until Feb. 1, 2022 of the filing of all required pleadings and submissions which would fall due until Jan. 31, 2022.
In issuing the circular, the SC – through Chief Justice Gesmundo – considered “the increasing rise of COVID-19 cases due to the Omicron variant…”