Civil weddings can now be held before before judges in areas which will be placed under the modified enhanced community quarantine (MECQ).
This is one of the directives Chief Justice Diosdado Peralta placed in the circular he issued on Thursday (May 14) which will serve as guidelines for the Supreme Court (SC), Court of Appeals (CA), Sandiganbayan, Court of Tax Appeals (CTA), and the lower courts once select areas like the National Capital Region (NCR) have been placed under MECQ after May 15.
“Civil weddings may be solemnized, provided the parties, witnesses and guests shall not exceed five (5), as provided in the Guidelines on the Phased Transition from ECQ (enhanced communnity quarantine) to GCQ (general community quarantine), and health hygiene protocols and other public medical standards, e.g., wearing of face masks and face shields, subjecting everyone to no-contact thermal scanning, and observance of social distancing, shall be strictly observed during the ceremony,” read Peralta’s circular.
On the other hand, Peralta told lower courts that they “shall remain physically closed to all court users until 31 May 2020” but will continue to operate online including raffle of cases, receiving of pleadings, and hearings.
“While all the courts in areas under MECQ shall remain physically closed to all court users, these courts shall continue to operate from 9:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m., Monday to Friday, until 29 May 2020,” said Peralta.
The chief magistrate reminded flag raising and retreat ceremonies remain suspended but officials meetings, seminars, trainings and other functions are deferred “unless conducted through video conferencing.”
Peralta said the SC, CA, Sandiganbayan, and CTA will continue to receive petitions and pleadings electronically while also physically closed.
He said the decision writing period of the SC has been extended to May 31 and its magistrates may “hold special en banc and division sessions anytime it may deem fit, either in-person or through videoconferencing.”
On the other hand, the CA, Sandiganbayan and CTA were told “to continue to resolve and decide cases pending before them” and hold regular hearings “through videoconferencing.”