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IBP asks Duterte to suspend hearings and processes of quasi-judicial tribunals

/ 03:19 PM March 18, 2020

MANILA, Philippines–The Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP) is urging President Rodrigo Duterte to order the temporary suspension of hearings and processes in all quasi-judicial and administrative tribunals nationwide.

“The Honorable Supreme Court issued a suspension order for the Judicial Branch. Some quasi-judicial bodies have suspended hearings and processes. An order from your good office for the quasi-judicial and administrative tribunals in the Executive Branch to suspend hearings and processes would be most welcome,” said Atty. Domingo Egon Cayosa, IBP National President and Chairman of the Board of Governors in a letter addressed to Duterte dated March 16 but made public Wednesday.

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Quasi-judicial agencies are bodies that are attached to executive departments under the Executive branch of the government. These bodies or agencies can exercise powers of adjudication specific for the purpose or function of that agency. Some of these bodies are the National Labor Relations Commission, Department of Agrarian Reform Adjudication Board, and the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB).

“We suggest this decisive move for the sake of lawyers, judges, prosecutors, and co-workers in the justice sector and also for the litigants, witnesses, stakeholders, and the public at large who need to be protected from the spread of the virus and who must cooperate to avoid travel and contact with others as proscribed by authorities and health experts,” Cayosa said.

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He said the enhanced community quarantine imposed by the national and local authorities “make physical presence in hearings difficult, if not impossible.”

“It may help if the tribunals remain functional with minimal staff on a rotation or on-call basis, and work from home arrangements are made,” he advised.

“A weekly assessment and adjustment of the suspension and other precautionary measures may be judicious,” he said.

He also urged the President to allow a general extension of deadlines for the submission of pleadings and other case requirements.

“The present circumstances require us to sacrifice for the greater good and safety of all, and to promote social justice,” he said.

“Please be assured that the IBP and the Filipino lawyers will responsibly act and collaborate in the measures to contain the spread of COVID-19 and to care for each other, especially for the poor we preferentially help,” he added.

The IBP’s request came after the Supreme Court has decided to reduce court operations up to April 15 following the declaration of the enhanced community quarantine and the Department of Justice’s order to suspend work in its main office in Padre Faura in the city of Manila and all city prosecutor offices at the National Capital Region (NCR).

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Edited by MUF

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