SC Addresses COVID-19 Health Concerns in the Judiciary

March 13, 2020

The Supreme Court, in today’s special En Banc meeting, addressed the health concerns of its personnel and the public.

Under the leadership of Chief Justice Diosdado M. Peralta, the Court is adopting measures which were the product of feedback and consultations with its first and second level courts.

As part of its social and moral responsibility, the Judiciary is taking all necessary precautions to ensure the health and general welfare of its workers and the public without abandoning its mandate under the Constitution.

The SC continues to closely monitor the situation as well as the impact of these measures. It has taken several actions which are as follows:

1)    Administrative Circular issued by Chief Justice Peralta to all Justices and personnel of the collegiate courts and judges and personnel of the first- and second-level court. The said Circular states that all courts in the National Capital Judicial Region, including collegiate courts, shall operate only with a skeleton staff effective from March 15-April 12, 2020. All Justices and Judges must be on stand-by during this period to act on and hear urgent matters.

2)    Administrative Circular issued by Chief Justice Peralta to all Justices of the Court of Appeals, Sandiganbayan, and Court of Tax Appeals. For strict adherence, the Circular, among others, directs that only those with official business in the said courts may be allowed entry to halls of justice and court premises; court premises and common areas must be constantly sanitized; and that Executive Justices and Associate Justices shall monitor the conditions of their respective personnel and workplaces to avert the spread or threat of the virus.

3)    Memorandum issued by Chief Justice Peralta to all SC Chiefs of Office and Services, to wit:

a.   There shall be a skeleton staff in order to maintain the unimpeded service to the public, except for the following who will report for work in full force: Medical and Dental Services, Office of the Bar Confidant, Property Division, Security Division, and Office of Administrative Services;

b.  Presidential Electoral Tribunal (PET) contractual employees are not required to report for work from March 16 to April 14, 2020;

c.    The Chiefs of Office/Service shall be required to report for work to ensure the normal operation of the office;

d.  Social distancing shall be strictly enforced at all times; and

e.   The flexible work arrangement shall take effect immediately until further orders from the Court.

4)    Creation of Task Force to Address the Rising Cases of COVID-19 Infection. The Task Force, to be chaired by Court Administrator Jose Midas P. Marquez, among others, shall recommend actions to be taken, guidelines and policies to the Chief Justice and the Court En Banc to prevent the spread and minimize the threat of the virus; monitor the conditions of justices, judges, court officials and personnel, and workplaces; and monitor issuances of the Executive and Legislative Departments to harmonize actions of the Judiciary.

5)     Temporary suspension/restriction on the personal follow-up of pending transaction. The Office of the Chief Justice has resolved to temporarily suspend/restrict the personal follow up of all transactions throughout the various SC offices, effectively immediately, until further notice. The said suspension/restriction pertains only to dealings with the general public and other stakeholders of the Court. All offices concerned shall direct the public to course matters for follow up to the Judiciary Public Assistance Section (JPAS).

6)    Cancellation of training programs and activities of the Philippine Judicial Academy (PHILJA), the SC’s education arm.

The SC Public Information Office will issue the said Court issuances as soon as these are available.###