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Premises of courts in NCR, Alert Level 3 areas closed until January 31

Kristine Joy Patag - Philstar.com
Premises of courts in NCR, Alert Level 3 areas closed until January 31
This photo release shows the set up for the oral arguments on the anti-terrorism law petitions in February 2021, conducted following safety protocols amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
Supreme Court Public Information Office / released

MANILA, Philippines — Chief Justice Alexander Gesmundo has ordered the closure of premises of all courts in areas placed under stricter restrictions in Alert Level 3 amid alarming increase of COVID-19 infections in the country.

Gesmundo issued Memorandum 10-2022 ordering the physical closure of all courts — from the Supreme Court down to the lowest court — in Metro Manila, Nueva Ecija, Bulacan, Cavite, Rizal, Laguna and 14 other areas, from January 13 to 31.

In a supplemental memorandum on Thursday, Gesmundo expanded the order for court closure to cover 28 additional areas placed under Alert Level 3 until end of January.

Based on the two directives, courts in the following areas are also affected by the closure order:

Luzon

  • Cordillera Administrative Region: Baguio City, Benguet, Kalinga, Abra
  • Ilocos Region: Dagupan City, La Union, Ilocos Norte, Pangasinan
  • Cagayan Region: City of Santiago, Cagayan, Nueva Vizcaya, Isabela, Quirino
  • Central Luzon Region: Angeles City, Bataan, Olongapo City, Pampanga, Zambales, Tarlac
  • Calabarzon: Batangas, Lucena City, Quezon province
  • Mimaropa: Occidental Mindoro, Oriental Mindoro
  • Bicol Region: Naga City Camarines Sur, Albay

Visayas

  • Western Visayas Region: Iloilo City, Bacolod City, Aklan Capiz, Antique
  • Central Visayas Region: Lapu-lapu City, Cebu City, Mandaue City
  • Eastern Visayas Region: Tacloban City

Mindanao

  • Zamboanga Peninsula Region: Cagayan de Oro City
  • Northern Mindanao Region: Davao City
  • CARAGA region: Butuan City, Agusan del Sur
  • BARMM: Cotabato City

“All courts in the above-mentioned areas, from the Supreme Court down to the first level courts, shall be physically closed to all court users and may be reached only through their respective hotlines and email address and Facebook accounts, if available,” Gesmundo said.

The chief justice also authorized the Presiding Justice of the Court of Appeals to issue the appropriate orders for the operation of its stations in Cebu and Cagayan de Oro.

Fully remote videoconference hearings may proceed

In-court hearings are also suspended, but fully remote videoconferencing hearings may proceed on urgent matters.

This includes proceedings on bail, the promulgation of acquittals or dismissal in criminal cases, Temporary or Permanent Protection Orders under Republic Act 9262, Habeas Corpus petitions, petitions for Writs of Amparo, and similar cases, and election-related cases, Gesmundo said.

“Judges are encouraged to examine the possibility of bail or recognizance for violations of ordinances or appropriate crimes,” the chief justice added.

Gesmundo also advised litigants, lawyers, prosecutors and the public to first contact the court through its hotline, email address or Facebook account so it may determine whether the matter being raised is urgent.

“If urgent, only then will the Justice or Judge, or the court personnel act on said urgent matter. All calls and messages shall be entertained from 8:30 a.m. to 2:00 p.m., Monday to Friday,” the memo read.

Filing periods of pleadings and other court submissions that fall in this month are meanwhile extended until February 1.

Metro Manila and nearby provinces are under Alert Level 3 until January 15. Meanwhile, the government escalated protocols in 28 other areas also to Alert Level 3 until end of January to stem the surge of new COVID-19 cases.

COVID-19 OMICRON VARIANT SUPREME COURT
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