Hearing Suspension and Deadline Extension
By: Atty. Cindy T. Climaco
(NOTE: As of today’s posting,President Rodrigo Roa Duterte has announced the extension of the Enhanced Community Quarantine (ECQ) in Metro Manila, Central Luzon, Calabarzon, and “all other high risk” provinces in Luzon until May 15, 2020. Since the SC Administrative Circular discussed here was issued in light of the first ECQ extension lasting until April 30, 2020, it is reasonably expected that the subject circular will likewise be updated. Hence, any such modification that will be subsequently issued will likewise be posted once it becomes available.)
On 17 March 2020, President Rodrigo Roa Duterte declared that the entire Luzon will be placed under Enhanced Community Quarantine (“ECQ”) which will last until 13 April 2020.
However, due to the increasing growth of COVID-19 cases in the country, President Duterte decided to extend the ECQ until 30 April 2020.
In line with the announcement, the Supreme Court issued Administrative Circular (“AC”) No. 34-2020, which provides:
- All courts nationwide shall remain physically closed to all court users until 30 April 2020, and may be reached only through their respective hotline numbers, email addresses and/or Facebook accounts as posted on the website of the Supreme Court.
- While the courts shall remain physically closed to all court users, the courts shall continue to operate from 9:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m, Monday to Friday, until 30 April 2020. All electronic communications however must be transmitted by court users from 8:30 a.m. to 2:00 p.m.
- The online filing of criminal complaints and informations, posting of bail, and submission of other urgent pleadings shall continue to be in effect until 30 April 2020.
- The scheduling of justices- and judges-on-duty, together with the skeleton-staff, shall continue until 30 April 2020, so that urgent matters may be addressed.
- Night courts and Saturday courts shall remain suspended until 30 April 2020.
- All hearings nationwide, except on urgent matters, shall remain suspended until 30 April 2020.
- The filing of petitions and appeals, complaints, motions, pleadings and other court submissions that fall due up to 30 April 2020 is extended for 30 calendar days, counted from 1 May 2020, but pleadings and other court submissions may still be filed by the parties within the reglementary period on or before 30 April 2020 through electronic means, if available.
- All court actions on non-urgent matters, scheduled until 30 April 2020 are likewise suspended.
- The periods for court actions with prescribed periods are also extended for 30 calendar days counted from 1 May 2020.
- All justices and judges shall continue to draft decisions and orders in their respective residences until 30 April 2020, which decisions and orders shall be promulgated or issued once the courts are fully operational.
- All official meetings, seminars, trainings and other functions in the Judiciary are deferred until 30 April 2020, except those that may be called or authorized by the Chief Justice or by the Judiciary Task Force on COVID-19.
- Flag raising and retreat ceremonies are likewise suspended until 30 April 2020.