Update on the Hearing Suspension and Deadline Extension in Courts
On 23 April 2020, 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 15 May 2020.
In this relation, the Supreme Court issued Administrative Circular (“AC”) No. 35-2020, superseding its previously issued Administrative Circular, AC No. 34-2020.
Administrative Circular No. 35-2020, provides that, all courts within the area of:
- National Capital Region (“NCR”);
- CAR – Benguet;
- Region I – Pangasinan;
- Region III – Bataan, Bulacan, Nueva Ecija, Pampanga, Tarlac and Zambales;
- Region IV-A – CALABARZON;
- Region IV-B – Oriental Mindoro and Occidental Mindoro; and
- Region V- Albay and Catanduanes.
- Region VI – Aklan, Antique, Capiz and Iloilo; and
- Region VII – Cebu and Cebu City.
- Region XI – Davao del Norte, Davao City & Davao de Oro
shall operate as follows:
- All courts in the ECQ areas shall remain physically closed to all court users until 15 May 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 in the ECQ areas, they shall continue to operate from 9:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m, Monday to Friday, until 15 May 2020. All electronic communications however must be transmitted by court users from 8:30 a.m. to 2:00 p.m.
- The on-line filing of criminal complaints and informations, posting of bail, and submission of other urgent pleadings shall continue to be in effect until 15 May 2020 in the ECQ areas.
- The scheduling of justices- and judges-on-duty, together with the skeleton-staff, in the ECQ areas shall continue until 15 May 2020, so that urgent matters may be addressed.
- Night courts and Saturday courts shall remain suspended until 15 May 2020 in the ECQ areas.
- All hearings in the ECQ areas, except on urgent matters (such as those mentioned in A.C. No. 31-2020 dated 16 March 2020), shall remain suspended until 15 May 2020.
- The filing of petitions and appeals, complaints, motions, pleadings and other court submissions that fall due up to 15 May 2020 in the ECQ areas is extended for 30 calendar days, counted from 16 May 2020, but pleadings and other court submissions may still be filed by the parties within the reglementary period on or before 15 May 2020 through electronic means, if preferred and able.
- The periods for court actions with prescribed periods in the ECQ areas are also extended for 30 calendar days counted from 16 May 2020, except court actions on urgent matters.
- All justices and judges in the ECQ areas shall continue to draft decisions and orders in their respective residences until 15 May 2020, which decisions shall be promulgated or issued once the courts are fully operational, except decisions and orders on urgent matters which shall be promulgated or issued during the ECQ period.
- All official meetings, seminars, trainings and other functions in the Judiciary within the ECQ areas are deferred until 15 May 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 15 May 2020.
AC No. 35-2020 further provides that should the status of an area or province be changed from ECQ to General Community Quarantine (“GCQ”), said area shall be governed by and comply with the circular issued for areas under GCQ.
For your guidance.