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Chief Justice Diosdado Peralta on Thursday (March 12) warned first and level courts against sharing fake news concerning the 2019 novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19).

This is one of the orders he made under the administrative circular he issued as part measures in response to the COVID-19 threat.

“Everyone must exercise caution and prudence in sharing, forwarding, or disseminating unverified or inaccurate news regarding the spread of Covid-19 disease which only tend to cause unnecessary fear and panic,” read the circular.

Peralta assured that his office is “closely monitoring the situation nationwide” and further advisories will be issued whenever deemed fit.

In the meantime, the chief justice advised the courts to continue functioning normally despite the health threat.

“While the health and welfare of everyone is primordial, we, as public servants, have a mandate to perform,” he stated.

In his circular, he said that only those with official business will be allowed in courts and must fill up a declaration form; those entering halls of justice shall be subjected to no-contact thermal scanning and, if found suffering from from fever, flu, colds and cough will not be allowed to enter; and persons deprived of liberty (PDLs) who attended hearings should immediately be returned to their respective detention facilities.

Peralta also ordered the proper ventilation of courts; the resetting of unessential meetings and gatherings; the constant sanitation of court premises and common areas; and proper observance of good personal hygeine, respiratory hygiene, and cough etiquette.

“Seek medical attention promptly if feeling sick for more than a day or two,” he directed.

“Thise required to go on mandatory quarantine and those availing of voluntary quarantine shall be covered by the guidelines and procedure provided in Civil Service Commission Memorandum Circular (CSC MC) No. 5, s. 2020 for the availment of leave privileges for absences incurred in relation thereto,” he assured.

Peralta also ordered executive judges and presiding judges to “monitor the conditions of their respective personnel and workplaces to avert the spread or threat of Covid-19 in the halls of justice and court rooms, and immediately report to their respective Deputy Court Administrators or Assistant Court Administrators any development or circumstance pertaining to Covid-19 for proper assessment, monitoring and management.”

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