Trial courts in six more areas which have been declared under COVID-19 Alert Level 3 are physically closed starting today, Jan. 28, until Feb. 15.
These are the courts in Palawan, Camiguin, Davao Occidental, Dinagat Islands, Tawi-Tawi, and Sulu.
The directive on the physical closure was contained in a circular issued by Deputy Court Administrator Raul Bautista Villanueva as authorized by Chief Justice Alexander G. Gesmundo.
While physically-closed, trial court judges are mandated to conduct hearings and other court proceedings through video conferencing on important and urgent matters like petitions for bail, promulgation of decisions whether conviction or acquittal, pleas for habeas corpus, or cases involving violence against women and children, among other cases.
Many trial courts in the country – like those in the National Capital Region (NCR) and the provinces of Cavite, Laguna, Bulacan and Rizal which are under Alert Level 3 – are still physically closed until Monday, Jan. 31.
The Supreme Court (SC) is awaiting declaration from the government, through the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF), if areas under Alert Level 3 would be de-escalated to a lower level by Jan. 31 to adjust the operations of trial courts.
Also, physically-closed trial courts until Jan. 31 are those in Apayao, Puerto Princesa City, Masbate, Siquijor, Zamboanga del Norte, Zamboanga Sibugay, Lanao del Norte, Davao de Oro, Davao Oriental, North Cotabato, Sarangani, Sultan Kudarat, Surigao del Norte, Maguindanao, Basilan;
Baguio City, Dagupan City, City of Santiago, Angeles City, Bataan, Olongapo City, Pampanga, Zambales, Batangas, Lucena City, Naga City, Iloilo City, Lapu-lapu City, Benguet, Kalinga, Abra, La Union, Ilocos Norte, Pangasinan, Nueva Ecija, Isabela, Quirino, Tarlac, Quezon, Occidental Mindoro;
Oriental Mindoro, Camarines Sur, Albay, Bacolod City, Aklan, Capiz, Antique, Cebu City, Mandaue City, Tacloban City, Cagayan de Oro City, Davao City, Butuan City, Agusan del Sur, and Cotabato City.
Also, physically-closed until Jan. 31 are the two stations of the Court of Appeals in Cebu City for the Visayas and in Cagayan de Oro City for Mindanao.
The SC, the Court of Appeals in Manila, the Sandiganbayan, and the Court of Tax Appeals are also physically closed until Jan. 31.