SC orders in-person hearings under Alert 1

The Supreme Court (SC) has directed all trial court judges, officials, and personnel in areas under Covid-19 Alert Level 1 to report physically for work until 15 August.

The SC added, through Court Administrator Raul Villanueva, that as many as 80 percent of the total personnel of courts in areas under Alert 2 should work onsite.

In the SC circular, Villanueva said that face-to-face hearings of cases should be given priority although video conferencing inside courtrooms would still be allowed.

Night courts in areas under Alert Level 1 are allowed to operate and executive judges may conduct jail visitations if needed.

For courts without their own facilities in areas under Alert Level 1, only 75 percent of the workforce would be allowed to report on-site.

In areas under Alert 2, courts are not allowed to conduct night courts, according to the circular. Likewise, fully-remote video conferencing hearings, regardless of the location of the judges in the country, are no longer allowed.

Flag-raising ceremonies are not allowed under Alert Level 1 or 2, the SC said.

The Department of Health has announced that the National Capital Region remains under Alert Level 1 from 1 to 15 August, along with the Cordillera Administrative Region, Abra, Apayao, Kalinga, Mountain Province and Baguio City.

Also under Alert 1 are (Region I) Ilocos Norte, Ilocos Sur, La Union, Pangasinan, and Dagupan City; (Region II) Batanes, Cagayan, Isabela, Nueva Vizcaya, Quirino and City of Santiago; (Region III) Aurora, Bataan, Bulacan, Nueva Ecija, Pampanga, Tarlac, Zambales, Angeles City, and Olongapo City; (Region IV-A) Batangas, Cavite, Laguna, Rizal, and Lucena City; (Region IV-B) Marinduque, Oriental Mindoro, Romblon and Puerto Princesa City; (Region V) Albay, Catanduanes, Naga City, and Sorsogon; (Region VI) Aklan, Capiz, Guimaras, Iloilo Province, Bacolod City, and Iloilo City; (Region VII) Siquijor, Cebu City, Lapu-Lapu City and Mandaue City; (Region VIII) Biliran, Eastern Samar, Southern Leyte, Ormoc City, and Tacloban City; (Region IX) Zamboanga City; (Region X) Camiguin, Bukidnon, Misamis Occidental, Misamis Oriental, Cagayan de Oro City and Iligan City; (Region XI) Davao City and Davao Oriental; (Region XII) South Cotabato and General Santos City; (CARAGA) Agusan del Norte, Agusan del Sur, Surigao del Sur and Butuan City; and (BARMM) Cotabato City.

The component cities and municipalities to be newly placed under Alert Level 1 are (Region VI) Barbaza, Antique; (Region VIII) Bato and Tabontabon, Leyte; (Region IX) Payao, Zamboanga Sibugay;
(Region XI) Braulio E. Dujali, Davao Del Norte; (Region XII) Maitum, Sarangani; (CARAGA) Pilar, Surigao Del Norte; (BARMM) Calanogas, Marogong and Tagoloan II, Lanao del Sur.

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