MANILA--The Integrated Bar of the Philippines on Sunday asked the Supreme Court to suspend all hearings and court processes throughout the country in a bid to contain the spread of COVID-19.
The IBP said hearings should be limited to "extremely urgent and critically important cases/matters." The group also asked the High Court to extend deadlines for the submission of pleadings and other case requirements.
In a letter to Chief Justice Diosdado Peralta, the IBP said this was needed to protect lawyers, judges, prosecutors, and co-workers in the justice sector as well as the litigants, witnesses, stakeholders, and the public at large.
"The 'community quarantine' imposed by national and local authorities and the reported spread of the virus to other provinces make physical presence in hearings difficult, if not impossible or even counterproductive," said Domingo Cayosa, IBP national president and board chairman.
The Supreme Court has said that the judiciary will continue operations but only with a skeletal force during the month-long community quarantine in Metro Manila amid the COVID-19 outbreak.