Protocols Issued On Hearing Of Cases During GCQ In Cebu City

Protocols Issued On Hearing Of Cases During GCQ In Cebu City

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The Cebu City Hall of Justice has required lawyers and litigants to use hotlines and emails in transacting with the local courts here amid the general community quarantine (GCQ) status.

Regional Trial Court Executive Judge Macaundas Hadjirasul on Sunday issued a memorandum addressed to judges, staff and court users, implementing a strict “no ID (identification), face mask and face shield, no entry” policy, while prohibiting walk-in inquiries, requests and transactions.

His memo took effect on Monday, three days after President Rodrigo Duterte placed the capital city under GCQ.

Hadjirasul said the mandatory wearing of face mask and face shield is “applicable to all court staff, officials, employees, workers, court users, and authorized visitors”.

In order to minimize people in the courthouse, inquiries, requests and transactions “must be made by calling the hotline numbers and email addresses of the courts and its offices (or their landlines during office hours)”.

“Although pleadings in criminal, civil and other cases, initiatory or otherwise, applications for bail, and other court submissions, may be filed either manually or electronically, those who are making a manual filing shall first call the Branch or Office concerned for guidance on whether they should be allowed to enter the CCHJ or their document/s picked-up by the concerned staff,” Hadjirasul said in the memorandum.

The chief judge said that each calendared case should now be allotted a specific time for the hearing and only the counsel, parties, and the witness to be presented will be allowed entry in the court. They will also be allowed to enter the Qimonda Building where the courts are situated only during the time specified for their case, he said.

Because of this new protocol, Hadjirasul required judges and court staff to specify in the notices or orders the time each case shall be called for hearing.

“An accused on bail need not appear in court unless required by the court to do so. Judges are encouraged to not require such an accused to appear in court unless necessary (during arraignment and pre-trial, when needed to testify, or for identification purposes if necessary, and during promulgation of judgment),” he said.

The executive judge also required law enforcement personnel to call first the branch or office to get guidance on the arrested persons they want to bring to the court for the issuance of commitment orders. They will only be allowed entry if the branch will let them in.

Commitment orders or “mittimus” are issued by the court before a person facing a criminal case can be put into custody.

The court will allow only five people, including the bride and groom, during the solemnization of marriage. But they need to confirm first the branch of the solemnizing judge by calling their hotline before they will be allowed to enter the courthouse.

Hadjirasul said those who are given permission to enter the court building are required to fill-up a logbook or record with relevant information for contact tracing and security purposes. However, judges, court officials, staff, and workers are exempted from logging in upon entry as they have their own attendance logbooks. (PNA)

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