Suspension of hearings in admin tribunals pushed

March 18, 2020

THE Integrated Bar of the Philippines yesterday urged President Duterte to suspend hearings and other processes in quasi-judicial bodies and administrative tribunals following the rise of coronavirus cases in the country. 

IBP national president Domingo Egon Cayosa underscored the need for such suspension except for "extremely urgent and critically important cases/matters.”

“An order from your good office for the quasi-judicial and administrative tribunals in the Executive Branch to suspend hearings and processes would be most welcome,” Cayosa said in his letter to Mr. Duterte. 

“We suggest this decisive move for the sake of lawyers, judges, prosecutors, and co-workers in the justice sector and also for the litigants, witnesses, stakeholders, and the public at large who need to be protected from the spread of the virus and who must cooperate to avoid travel and contact with others as proscribed by authorities and health experts,” Cayosa said.

But he suggested that a skeletal workforce in these quasi-judicial bodies be maintained to make them functional amid the COVID-19 crisis.

“It may help if the tribunals remain functional with minimal staff on a rotation or on call basis, and work from home arrangements are made,” he advised.

President Duterte placed the entire Luzon including Metro Manila under the enhanced community quarantine. 

A memorandum from Malacañang on the enhanced quarantine guides government agencies to ensure the following:

Prohibition of mass gatherings and imposition of strict home quarantine among all households;

Work-from-home arrangement for the executive branch;

Only essential establishments are to remain open (those private establishments providing basic necessities and such activities related to food and medicine production i.e. public markets, supermarkets, groceries, convenience stores, hospitals, medical clinics, pharmacies and drug stores, food preparation and delivery services, water-refilling stations, manufacturing and processing plants of basic food products and medicines, power energy, water and telecommunications) 

Suspension of mass public transport facilities;

Restricted land, air and sea travel; and

Labor, social welfare, finance, budget and trade departments to come up with programs for affected workers and businesses.