Constitution, laws not suspended as SC adopt ‘drastic adjustments’ in operations
MANILA, Philippines – The Supreme Court has announced making “drastic adjustments” in court operations following the spike of COVID-19 cases in the country but assured that the Constitution and laws are not suspended.
“The Constitution and our laws are not suspended, and our courts are not shutting down in times of emergencies. But with the situation still rapidly evolving, and an atmosphere of uncertainty pervading, we must all do everything we can,” Chief Justice Diosdado Peralta.
In issuing Administrative Circular (AC) No. 31-2020, Peralta said the drastic adjustments have been made but “without sacrificing the need to attend to urgent cases and affect life and liberty to prevent the spread of COVID-19 and protect the health and safety of our justices, judges, court workers, lawyers, public we serve.”
Under the AC 31-2020, the Supreme Court ordered the following:
-All courts nationwide shall drastically reduce operations beginning March 16, 2020 to April 15, 2020.
-Skeleton staff shall be maintained to act on urgent matters
-Night courts suspended
-All courts nationwide shall operate from 9 a.m.-3 p.m. until April 15
-No work in all courts, court offices, division except in courts and offices concerned with the resolution of urgent matters and cases, payments of salaries, release of 2019 Bar Exams results, medical services and security of courts. Work that can be performed at home shall proceed
-All hearings nationwide suspended except on urgent matters such as bail, habeas corpus, promulgation of judgments, relief for those detained
-Filing of petitions, petitions, other appeals from March 15 to April 15 is extended for 30 calendar days from April 16
-Court actions not considered urgent suspended, rescheduled. Court actions with prescribed periods extended for 30 calendar days from Apr 16
-All justices, judges to draft decisions and orders at home to be issued once courts are fully operational;
-All meetings, trainings, etc. are deferred except those called for by Chief Justice or Judiciary task force on COVID-19
-Panel interview by JBC for SC associate justice post of retiring AJ Andres Reyes, Jr reset to a later date which will be announced in due time
-All concerned must regularly visit SC website and Twitter account for announcements
The recent pronouncement supersedes previous issuances inconsistent with a new circular, high court’s Public Information Chief Atty. Brian Keith Hosaka said quoting the circular.
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