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SC OKs fully remote videoconference hearings amid continuing COVID-19 threat
This file photo from September 2019 shows a trial hearing being held via teleconferencing.
File photo

SC OKs fully remote videoconference hearings amid continuing COVID-19 threat

(Philstar.com) - June 1, 2021 - 4:27pm

MANILA, Philippines — The Supreme Court has allowed lower courts nationwide to conduct fully remote videoconferencing hearings to not delay trial proceedings, amid the threat of the novel coronavirus.

Court Administrator Midas Marquez issued Circular 67-2021 informing all judges of Municipal and Metropolitan Trial Courts, and Regional Trial Courts that Chief Justice Alexander Gesmundo has approved the conduct of remote hearings through videoconference.

“All judges of the first and second level courts may conduct fully remote videoconferencing hearings, regardless of their physical location in the country, with notice to the Office of the Court Administrator, until further notice,” Marquez said.

He added that this was following the request of some judges and court personnel, “in consideration of their health and safety, as well as the court users.’” The OCA also took note of different quarantine classifications in localities and surge cases in some areas.

As the OCA releases this directive, more courts have been forced to temporarily close its premises due to COVID-19 threat.

On Tuesday alone, the SC announced that courts in Narra and Puerto Princesa City in Palawan, Dipolog City in Zamboanga del Norte, Butuan City and Tuguegarao City in Cagayan are will be closed for until June 15.

These courts may be reached through their official hotlines and email addresses found on the SC website.

Judiciary employees, along with other frontline personnel in essential sectors, have been included in the A4 priority category on the government’s priority vaccination list.

Health authorities on Tuesday logged 5,177 new COVID-19 infections, pushing national caseload to 1,235,467. Of these, 53,203 are deemed active cases, while recoveries are tallied at 1,161,252. Fatalities rose to 21,012. — Kristine Joy Patag

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