The Supreme Court (SC) announced the re-opening of courts in areas placed under the general community quarantine (GCQ) starting May 18.

Under Administrative Circular No. 40-2020 released Friday, the SC mandated that “All the branches of the courts in the areas under GCQ shall be physically open from 18 to 29 May 2020, but shall function only with a skeleton-staff, by rotation, to be determined by the presiding judge.”

The courts will be open from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. until May 29. Courts will be closed on Saturday, May 30.

The circular also instructed all courts that all inquiries on cases and transactions including requests for documents shall be done through the court’s hotline numbers, email, and/or Facebook pages. The high court specifically mentioned that all electronic communications must be received by the courts from 8:30 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. of the same day in order for it to be processed on the same day. No walk-in requests will be entertained or accepted.

SC said the filing of petitions, appeals, complaints, motions, pleadings and other court submissions that are due within the period before May 31 will be extended by another 30 days and that court actions with prescribed periods will also be extended by 30 days.

The high court also said that “all the courts in the GCQ areas shall continue to resolve and decide all the cases pending before them. The hearings, either in-court or through videoconferencing, of all the matters pending before them, in both criminal and civil cases, whether newly filed or pending, and regardless of the stage of the trial, are now herein authorized.” (Rommel F. Lopez)