No personal filing at SC during lockdown unless on 'exceptionally urgent matters'

No personal filing at SC during lockdown unless on 'exceptionally urgent matters'
This file photo shows the Supreme Court.
Philstar.com / Erwin Cagadas

MANILA, Philippines — The Supreme Court has amended its guidelines for parties and litigants amid the closure of its premises amid heightened quarantine restrictions until August 20.

Chief Justice Alexander Gesmundo on Wednesday issued Memorandum Order 65-2021 advised lawyers, parties and litigants that personal filing or service of pleadings is not allowed. An exception may be made for urgent matters but that will be up to the court or office concerned.

The SC premises will be closed from August 2 to 20 as Metro Manila is placed under Enhanced Community Quarantine for a two-week period to arrest the spread of the coronavirus.

Gesmundo noted that as the high court has to act on urgent matters, personnel concerned with receiving pleadings, resolutions, such as the SC’s Receiving Section of the Judicial Records Office and the Office of the Clerks of Court, shall maintain a reduced workforce during ECQ.

Referring to lawyers, parties or litigants, the SC said that filing or service of pleadings and court submissions must be done through registered mail or services of duly accredited private couriers.

Pleadings may also be transmitted through electronic mail, following existing guidelines, the memo added.

“For exceptionally urgent matters, personal filing of the pleading or submission may be done through Docket Receiving Section of the Judicial Records but only after the concerned personnel of the Docket Receiving Section shall have properly communicated and cleared the matter with the proper Office and have received official confirmation that the matter covered by the pleading or submission being personally filed is indeed urgent,” Gesmundo also said.

The chief justice last week ordered the physical closure of all courts and judicial offices in Metro Manila from August 2 to 20, but Gesmundo stressed that operations shall continue online and hearings for urgent incidents and cases may be done through videoconferencing.

Among urgent cases are applications for bail, releases due to the dismissal of cases or acquittal, habeas corpus, applications for temporary protection orders for Violence Against Women and Children, and analogous circumstances.

It added that filing and service of pleadings during the period is suspended and shall resume seven calendar days from the first day of physical reopening of courts.

The Malacañang earlier on Tuesday authorized executive branch offices in Metro Manila to operate on reduced on-site capacity during ECQ period. — Kristine Joy Patag

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