SC orders courts PH-wide to reduce operations

March 16, 2020

The Supreme Court yesterday suspended work in the judiciary as well as court hearings throughout the country amid the coronavirus outbreak.  

This was contained in Administrative Order No. 31-2020 which was issued shortly after Chief Justice Diosdado Peralta met with the SC task force created to address judiciary concerns on the COVID-19.

In the circular, courts nationwide have to substantially reduce operations beginning March 16 until April 15.

Work in all courts, court offices, divisions, sections, and units, including in the SC are suspended, except in courts and court offices concerned with the resolution of urgent matters and cases, the payments of salaries in the Judiciary, the release of the 2019 Bar Examination results, medical services, and security of the courts.

Meanwhile, all hearings nationwide are also suspended. However, those of urgent matters, such as petitions, motions, and pleadings in relation to bail and habeas corpus, promulgation of judgements of acquittals, reliefs for those who may be arrested and detained during this period, and other related actions that may be filed in relation to measures imposed at the local or national levels to address the declared health emergency. cannot be heard in the suspension period.

Filing of petitions and appeals, complaints, motions, pleadings, and other court submission that fall from March 15 to April 15 is extended for 30 days after April 16.

The SC appointed Court Administrator Jose Midas Marquez’s the chairperson of the task force with Clerk of Court Edgar Aricheta as vice chairperson.

The functions and duties of the task force include:

1. Immediately address concerns of the judiciary and issue directives as the need arises, if authorized within its level;

2. Recommend actions to be taken, guidelines and policies to the Chief Justice and the Court en banc to prevent the spread and minimize the threat of Covid19;

3. Monitor the conditions of justices, judges, court officials, personnel, and workplaces to avert the spread and threat of Covid-19 in courtrooms, halls of justice, and offices;

4. Identify necessary resource requirements for the implementation of said guidelines and policies;

5. Monitor issuances of the Executive and Legislative Departments to harmonize actions of the Judiciary;

6. Identify gaps in the implementation of said guidelines and policies and recommend corrective measures;

7. Prepare status reports for submission to the Chief Justice and the Court en banc; and

8. Act on any and all directives the Chief Justice and the Court en banc may issue.
Megan Daphne Musni as task force secretary and Hannah Matti Espinosa and Justin Zodimo Mendoza as assistant secretaries.