Premises of trial courts in 15 more areas ordered closed until Jan. 31

Premises of trial courts in 15 more areas ordered closed until Jan. 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 — The Supreme Court has ordered the closure of trial courts’ premises in 15 more localities as the Philippines grapples with a surge in new COVID-19 cases.

The Office of Court Administrator on Friday issued Circular No. 20-2022 ordering the physical closure of trial courts to users from January 21 to 31. The directive, signed by Deputy Court Administrator Raul Bautista Villanueva, covers the following areas:


  • Apayao
  • Puerto Princesa City
  • Masbate


  • Siquijor


  • Zamboanga del Norte
  • Zambonga Sibugay
  • Lanao del Norte
  • Davao del Oro
  • Davao Oriental
  • North Cotabato
  • Sarangani
  • Sultan Kudarat
  • Surigao del Norte
  • Maguindanao
  • Basilan

Judges, court personnel and users in the said areas are ordered to comply with the OCA’s earlier guidelines that suspended in-court hearings due to rising COVID-19 cases.

In the said previous circular, the OCA said judges may conduct fully remote videoconferencing for proceedings on urgent matters and raffle of cases.

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.

Judges in the said period shall continue to draft orders on pending motions submitted for resolution or cases up for decision. “These orders or decision should then be released, served, or promulgated within the reglementary period as required by [SC] issuances, the Rules of Court or applicable laws,” Villanueva added.

He also noted that courts in Kalinga, Ifugao, Mountain Province and Northern Samar — areas placed under Alert Level 4 on Thursday night — are already covered and ordered physically closed until January 31 in an earlier circular.

“In the event that there are specific matters that may apply only to areas declared under Alert Level 4 by the [Inter-Agency Task Force on the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases] during the subject period, which may have a significant impact on the current policies that have so far been adopted regarding the courts, the same should be brought to the attention of the OCA by the concerned Executive Judge or Presiding Judge for appropriate action,” Villanueva continued.

National COVID-19 tally hit 3,357,083 on Friday, with 32,744 new infections logged this day. Active cases remain at 291,618. — Kristine Joy Patag



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