ALL judicial courts will be in “full operation” starting June 1, following the easing of lockdown restrictions in most parts of the country.
“All courts and offices of the courts nationwide beginning 1 June 2020 shall be in full operation from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. in the National Capital Judicial Region, and from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. in Regions 1 to 12, Monday to Friday,” Supreme Court Circular No. 41-2020 read.
Considering that mass transportation is not yet in full operation, the courts may continue to function with a skeleton-staff if necessary.
All inquiries on cases and transactions, including requests for documents and services, will be initially processed only through hotline numbers, e-mail, and/or social media accounts of the courts. No walk-in requests will be entertained by any branches.
Raffling of cases will also proceed regularly. Meanwhile, the raffling of cases through videoconferencing will no longer be conducted.
Hearings of cases, regardless of the stage of the trial, will all be held in-court, except cases involving persons deprived of liberty (PDL) who will continue to appear remotely from their detention facility.
In-court hearings should strictly follow hygiene protocols such as the wearing of masks, thermal scanning, and social distancing. In the case of videoconferenced hearings, justices or judges will preside from the courtrooms or their chambers at all times.
There will be no extensions in the filing of petitions, appeals, complaints, motions, pleadings and other court submissions that will fall due beginning June 1. In addition, periods for court actions with prescribed periods beginning June 1 will not be extended.
The Supreme Court earlier ordered all courts nationwide to “physically close” starting March 23 due to the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic. — Genshen L. Espedido