More courts temporarily closed amid surge in COVID-19 cases

Mico Abarro, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jan 13 2022 01:33 PM

MANILA - The Supreme Court ordered on Thursday the physical closure of more courts in areas across the country amid a surge in COVID-19 cases and the spread of the omicron variant. 

The supplemental memorandum order signed by Chief Justice Alexander Gesmundo covered courts in at least 27 areas including Benguet, Kalinga, Camarines Sur, Cebu City, and Davao City. 

The expansion was done in light of the COVID-19 Alert Level statuses in these areas being elevated to Alert Level 3. The Supreme Court already ordered the closure of courts in 20 other areas on Wednesday. 

According to the memo, the closures will begin Thursday, January 13. Since guidelines in the Supreme Court's previous memo will also apply to these areas, then the closures are expected to end by January 31, 2022. 

AREAS UNDER ALERT LEVEL 3 WHERE COURTS ARE CLOSED 

  • Luzon 
    •  Benguet 
    •  Kalinga
    •  Abra
    •  La Union
    •  Ilocos Norte 
    •  Pangasinan
    •  Nueva Vizcaya
    •  Isabela
    •  Quirino
    •  Tarlac
    •  Quezon Province
    •  Occidental Mindoro 
    •  Oriental Mindoro
    •  Camarines Sur
    •  Albay
  • Visayas 
    •  Bacolod City
    •  Aklan 
    •  Capiz
    •  Antique 
    •  Cebu City 
    •  Mandaue City
    •  Tacloban City 
  • Mindanao 
    •  Cagayan de Oro
    •  Davao City 
    •  Butuan City 
    •  Agusan del Sur 
    •  Cotabato City 

Due to the closures, all court hearings in the affected areas are suspended. However, "urgent matters" such as inquest proceedings and bail hearings could be done through remote videoconferencing. 

Those who have transactions with these courts can also still do so through their hotline numbers, email addresses, and social media accounts. 

But in the supplemental memo, the Supreme Court added that the Office of the Court Administrator was authorized to issue appropriate circulars to address the concerns of judges in the affected first and second-level courts covered by the closure order.