MANILA - The Supreme Court on Saturday said it would extend the physical closure of courts and judicial offices in areas under the so-called "NCR Plus" bubble until April 18.
This is due to “the unabated rise of COVID-19 cases," according to the administrative circular signed by newly-minted Chief Justice Alexander Gesmundo.
The top magistrate recommended that courts in NCR Plus (Metro Manila, Laguna, Rizal, Bulacan, and Cavite) continue operating through videoconferencing.
These courts will be accessible through their email addresses and hotlines posted on the high court's website.
"Judges may conduct fully remote videoconferencing hearings on pending cases and other matters, whether urgent or not, regardless of their physical location and without prior permission from the Office of the Court Administrator," said Gesmundo.
Filing and service of pleadings and motions were likewise suspended and will resume 7 days "from the first day of physical reopening of the relevant court."
Essential judicial offices, meanwhile, are still subject to physical attendance by skeleton staff to attend to all urgent matters, according to the circular.
To date, the Philippines has confirmed 840,554 coronavirus infections, with 14,520 fatalities and 647,683 recoveries.
Remaining active infections reached over 178,000, the highest since the pandemic began over a year ago.
— With a report from Mike Navallo, ABS-CBN News