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Chief Justice Diosdado Peralta on Monday (April 27) directed all courts in certain areas in the country to remain physically closed until May 15.

Peralta gave the order in response to the government’s decision to extend the enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) up to May 15 in the National Capital Region, Benguet, Pangasinan, Bataan, Bulacan, Nueva Ecija, Pampanga, Tarlac, Zambales, CALABARZON, Oriental Mindoro, Occidental Mindoro, Albay, Catanduanes, Aklan, Antique, Capiz, Iloilo, Cebu, Cebu City, Davao del Norte, Davao de Oro, and Davao City.

“All courts in the ECQ area shall remain physically closed to all court users until 15 May 2020, and may be reached only through their respective hotline numbers, email addresses and/or Facebook accounts posted on the website of the Supreme Court,” read his administrative circular.

“While the courts shall remain physically closed to all court users in the ECQ areas, they shall continue to operate from 9:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m., Monday to Friday, until 15 May 2020. all electronic communication, however, must be transmitted by court users from 8:30 a.m. to 2:00 p.m.,” he advised.

This means the scheduling of duty judges and skeletal staff will continue during this period along with the on-line filing of complaints and information, posting of bail, and submission of urgent pleadings.

On the other hand, Peralta said hearings in these ECQ areas shall remain suspended until May 15 and all filings scheduled during this period are given an extension of 30 days starting from May 16 but parties may still make submissions through e-mail.

Despite the continued closure of courts, Peralta told magistrates in the ECQ areas to “continue to draft decisions and orders in their respective residences until 15 May 2020” so that these will be promulgated or issued after the lifting the ECQ.

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