Only “urgent matters” will be taken up by the Sandiganbayan through fully remote video conferencing until Jan. 31 when its offices are physically closed due to “rising cases of COVID-19 infection.”
In an administrative order, Presiding Justice Amparo M. Cabotaje Tang said that all in-court hearings are suspended and administrative functions should also be done via video conferencing.
Presiding Justice Tang’s order was in line with the Supreme Court’s (SC) circular that declared physically closed until Jan. 31 all courts in the National Capital Region and in several provinces and cities which are under a more restrictive COVID Alert Level 3.
The SC circular, issued by Chief Justice Alexander G. Gesmundo, also extended until Feb. 1, 2022 the filing of court-required pleadings and submissions that would fall due until Jan. 31, 2022.
Despite the work-from-home status of its employees, the Sandiganbayan heads of offices shall “remain on-call for urgent matters through their mobile numbers or other messaging applications,” Tang said in her order.
“All concerned offices should promptly reply to queries from litigants on urgent matters,” she added.
The order also stated that Sandiganbayan Justices will continue to write decisions and resolutions while working from home, and the justices were advised to refrain from leaving their homes “unless absolutely necessary.”
It stated that only select individuals are allowed to enter the Sandiganbayan premises while it remains physically closed. These are employees belonging to offices performing essential work, such as the processing of salaries, the medical section, and the security personnel.
“They should only stay on-site to accomplish urgent and essential work. Transportation may be provided to essential personnel. Health protocols and social distancing should be strictly followed,” the order also stated.