Courts fully operational starting June 1

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All courts will be in full operation starting June 1 as portions of the country eases quarantine protocols under the General Community Quarantine (GCQ).

Under Administrative Circular 41-2020, only night courts and Saturday courts shall remain suspended.

Courts in Manila will be open from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. while courts in Regions 1 to 12 will be open from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.

But the Supreme Court took into consideration the fact that there is limited transportation for the public; it noted that courts may continue to work with a skeleton staff to be determined by the Chief Justice, Associate Justices, Presiding Justices, Executive Judges, Presiding Judges and Chiefs of Offices.

“It must, however, be ensured that those staying at home will have work to do at home,” read the circular signed by Chief Justice Diosdado Peralta.

The circular also stated that courts and court offices would not entertain walk-in requests. It pointed out that all inquiries on cases and transactions including requests for documents and services shall be coursed and acted upon through the hotline numbers, email addresses, and social media accounts such as Facebook.

On the other hand, hearings will be conducted physically except in cases involving Persons Deprived of Liberty (PDLs) who shall appear remotely from the detention facility. The justices or judges will appear in the courtrooms unless in exceptional circumstances where they may preside from home with prior permission from the Office of the Court Administration.

“The hearings of cases, regardless of the stage of the trial, shall all be in-court, except in cases involving persons deprived of liberty (PDLs) who shall continue to appear remotely from the detention facility, and in cases with extraordinary circumstances as may be determined by the justices and judges, which shall be heard through videoconferencing,” the court said.

Health and hygiene protocols will be observed in courts, including wearing face masks, face shields, no-contact thermal checks, and physical distancing.

Flag-raising and retreat rites remain suspended, while official meetings, seminars, and training deferred unless done via videoconferencing.