The Supreme Court (SC) has mandated that all courts nationwide – from the SC to the lowest trial courts – are still on 100 percent on-site work for all officials and employees until September 30.
In a circular issued by the SC through the Office of the Court Administrator, the SC, Court of Appeals, Sandiganbayan, Court of Tax Appeals, and trial courts revise work schedules and issue guidelines for 15 days depending on the developments in the Covid-19 pandemic which the country has been battling since March 2020.
Court Administrator Raul B. Villanueva said for all trial courts, the 100 percent on-site work is maintained until Sept. 30 “there being no substantial adverse development regarding the Covid-19 situation in many parts of the country.”
Chief Justice Alexander Gesmundo has approved the trial courts’ work schedule.
In the trial courts, full capacity operations mean flag-raising/lowering ceremonies are allowed, Saturday duty will continue, night courts are allowed to operate, jail visitations are permitted, raffle of cases is done on-site, and personal filing of pleadings and required documents can be done subject to strict adherence to COVID-19 protocols.
In his circular, Villanueva said that priority should be given to face-to-face hearings of cases in the trial courts. Video conferencing hearings may also be allowed subject to approval by Villanueva’s office, Office of the Court Administrator (OCA) which supervises for the SC all lower courts in the country.
For trial courts with no space and facilities of their own and which are still sharing work space with local government units (LGUs) in their areas are authorized to maintain a 75 percent workforce until Sept. 30 and the judges should determine who among their personnel should work on-site.
In the National Capital Region (NCR), regular office hours are from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Mondays to Fridays. Work hours in courts outside NCR are from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.