MANILA – All courts nationwide will resume full operations starting June 1, the Supreme Court said Friday, following weeks of suspension of physical proceedings as large parts of the country shift to looser general community quarantine amid the continuing COVID-19 pandemic.
Night and Saturday courts will, however, remain suspended, according to an administrative circular signed by Chief Justice Diosdado Peralta on May 29.
Metro Manila courts are open from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. while other regions shall operate 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.
They may still operate with a skeletal staff as mass transit is expected to resume on limited capacity.
Hearings will be held physically, but detained respondents shall appear remotely, while accused granted bail are not required to come unless for a "special reason," the high court said in guidelines.
"The hearings of cases, regardless of the stage of the trial, shall all be in-court, except in cases involving persons deprived of liberty (PDLs) who shall continue to appear remotely from the detention facility, and in cases with extraordinary circumstances as may be determined by the justices and judges, which shall be heard through videoconferencing," the court said.
It said courts "shall adopt a system of hearings to enable them to implement continuous trial in criminal cases," speeding up proceedings.
Health and hygiene protocols will be observed in courts, including wearing face masks, face shields, no-contact thermal checks and physical distancing.
The high court also said courts should no longer grant extensions in filing petitions, appeals and other pleadings.
Petitions and pleadings may be filed in person or electronically. Case followups and requests for documents or services should, meanwhile, be coursed through calls to hotlines or via email or Facebook messaging to concerned courts. Contact details will be posted on the Supreme Court website.
"No walk-in requests shall be entertained by any of the branches or offices of the courts," the high court said.
Flag-raising and retreat rites remain suspended, while official meetings, seminars and trainings deferred, unless done via videoconferencing.
President Rodrigo Duterte on Thursday ordered Metro Manila, regions 2, 3, 4A, Pangasinan, Albay and Davao City under GCQ starting June 1.
Meanwhile, the rest of the country will shift to a modified GCQ, a step closer to the "new normal" or the full lifting of community quarantine protocols.