The Supreme Court (SC) has ordered all trial courts in areas under COVID-19 Alert Levels 1 and 2, like those in the National Capital Region, to have a least 75 percent of officials and personnel or full workforce in their offices Monday to Friday starting today, Dec. 1.
In a circular, the SC through the Office of the Court Administrator directed that those in areas under Alert Level 3 and those under general community quarantine (GCQ) or modified GCQ (MGCQ) should maintain at least 50 percent or at most 75 percent of the total personnel in their offices.
Saturday duty in trial courts under Alert Levels 1 and 2 should have 50 to 75 percent of the total workforce, while those under Alert Level 3, GCQ, or MGCQ should have from 30 to 50 percent.
Trial court judges may continue to conduct hearings through video conferencing
In areas under Alert Levels 4 and 5 and those under granular lockdown, enhanced community quarantine (ECQ), and modified ECQ, with or without heigh ened restrictions, all trial courts are closed. Judges should conduct hearings on important and urgent cases through video conferencing.
Night courts are still not allowed in all alert levels and quarantine classifications.
The new work schedule in the trial courts – municipal trial court, municipal circuit trial court, municipal trial court in cities, metropolitan trial court, regional trial court, shari’ah court – was contained in a circular issued last Nov. 29 by Officer-in-Charge Raul B. Villanueva of the Office of the Court Administrator (OCA).
Villanueva said the trial courts’ work schedule starting Dec. 1 was issued in consultation with Chief Justice Alexander G. Gesmundo and should be implemented until further notice.
Aside from the NCR, also under Alert Level 2 from Dec. 1 to 15 are the Cordillera Administrative Region: Benguet, Abra, Kalinga, Baguio City, Mountain Province, and Ifugao; Region I: Dagupan City, Ilocos Sur,
Ilocos Norte, La Union, and Pangasinan; Region II: Batanes, Cagayan, Isabela, Nueva Vizcaya, Quirino, and City of Santiago; Region III: Angeles City, Aurora, Bataan, Bulacan, Nueva Ecija, Olongapo City, Pampanga, Zambales, and Tarlac; Region IV-A: Cavite, Laguna, Batangas, Rizal, Quezon, and Lucena City; Region IV-B:
Occidental Mindoro, Oriental Mindoro, Puerto Princesa City, Marinduque, Romblon, and Palawan; Region V: Albay, Camarines Norte, Camarines Sur, Catanduanes, Sorsogon, Masbate, and Naga City; Region VI: Aklan, Antique, Bacolod
City, Capiz, Guimaras, Iloilo, Iloilo City, and Negros Occidental; Region VII: Bohol, Cebu, Cebu City, Lapu-Lapu City, Mandaue City, Negros Oriental, and Siquijor; Region VIII: Biliran, Eastern Samar, Leyte, Northern Samar, Ormoc City, Southern Leyte, Tacloban City, and Western Samar; Region IX: City of Isabela, Zamboanga City, Zamboanga del Norte, Zamboanga del Sur, and Zamboanga Sibugay; Region X: Bukidnon, Cagayan de Oro City, Camiguin, Iligan City, Lanao del Norte, Misamis Occidental, and Misamis Oriental; Region XI: Davao City, Davao del Norte, Davao de Oro, Davao del Sur, Davao Occidental, and Davao
Oriental; Region XII: General Santos City, North Cotabato, Sarangani, South Cotabato, and Sultan Kudarat; Region XIII (Caraga) Butuan City, Surigao del Norte, Agusan del Sur, Surigao del Sur, Dinagat Islands, and Agusan del Norte; and Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao: Basilan, Cotabato City, Tawi-Tawi, Sulu, Lanao del Sur, and Maguindanao.
Last Nov. 22, the Supreme Court (SC) started a Monday to Saturday work with 50 percent of the total workforce reporting physically for three consecutive days from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
In a memorandum circular issued by Chief Justice Gesmundo, the 50-percent workforce will report physically from Monday to Wednesday, while the remaining 50 percent will work from Thursday to Saturday.
All officials and employees are required to work from home (WFH) for two days to complete the required 40-hour work week.
Also, the circular stated that chiefs of offices and service departments should report five days a week but they must ensure that one of them must report on Saturdays.
Gesmundo explained that flexible shifting is aimed at complying with COVID-19 protocols, particularly on physical distancing, because of the limited space in the SC offices.
He said the work arrangement is in line with the mandate to all government offices to be fully operational under COVID-19 Alert Level 2, a less restrictive quarantine protocol.