THE Supreme Court (SC) on Friday said that courts in areas under general community quarantine (GCQ) will reopen starting May 18 and will continue acting on pending cases during this period.
According to Administrative Circular No. 40-2020 issued on Friday, “All the branches of the courts in the areas under GCQ shall be physically open from 18 to 29 May 2020, but shall function only with a skeleton-staff, by rotation, to be determined by the presiding judge.”
Operating hours will be from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. until May 29. Courts will be closed on Saturday, May 30.
The SC also said “All the courts in the GCQ areas shall continue to resolve and decide all the cases pending before them. The hearings, either in-court or through videoconferencing, of all the matters pending before them, in both criminal and civil cases, whether newly filed or pending, and regardless of the stage of the trial, are now herein authorized.”
Judges and prosecutors may promulgate decisions and orders within the period of the GCQ. Service of writs and other court processes can also proceed.
The filing of petitions, appeals, complaints, motions, pleadings and other court submissions that are due within the period before May 31 will be extended by another 30 days. Court actions with prescribed periods will also be extended by 30 days.
Earlier this week, the Palace announced modified quarantine levels which will start after the original enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) to contain the spread of the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) ends on May 15. While quarantine will be lifted in some areas, many others will be put under the less strict GCQ. Meanwhile, Laguna, Cebu City, and Metro Manila will be under a modified enhanced community quarantine, which is more lenient than the ECQ but stricter than GCQ.
Many areas across the country will be put under GCQ starting May 16. These areas are the Cordillera Autonomous Region, Abra, Apayao, Benguet, Ifugao, Kalinga, Mountain Province, Baguio City, Batanes, Cagayan, Isabela, Nueva Vizcaya, Quirino, Santiago City, Aurora, Bataan, Bulacan, Nueva Ecija, Pampanga, Tarlac, Zambales, Angeles City, Olongapo City, Cavite, Quezon, Rizal, Batangas, Lucena City, Bohol, Cebu Province, Negros Oriental, Siquijor, Mandaue City, Lapu-Lapu City, Zamboanga Del Norte, Zamboanga Del Sur, Zamboanga Sibugay, Zamboanga City, Isabela City, Davao City, Davao De Oro, Davao Del Norte, Davao Del Sur, Davao Occidental, Davao Oriental, Agusan Del Norte, Agusan Del Sur, Dinagat Island, Surigao Del Norte, Surigao Del Sur, and Butuan City. — Gillian M. Cortez