To mitigate the spread of the Corona Virus Disease 2019 or “COVID-19” in the Philippines, the entire Luzon region was placed under Enhanced Community Quarantine (ECQ) from 17 March until 13 April 2020. The ECQ period was later on extended until 30 April 2020 upon the recommendation of the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases. Provinces and cities outside of Luzon have also been placed under lockdown or community quarantines in various degrees to control and minimize the spread of the infection.
In line with the appeal of the Government for the general public to stay home to control the further spread of COVID-19, the Supreme Court implemented guidelines to limit movement and travel of justices, judges and their skeleton staff. It likewise issued guidelines on the procedure for filing motions, pleadings, and other court submissions during the ECQ period.
A. Physical closure of courts
Under Administrative Circular No. 32-2020, all courts nationwide shall be physically closed except for urgent matters. Litigants, lawyers, prosecutors and the general public are therefore advised to first contact the proper court through any of its identified hotlines, email addresses and Facebook accounts to determine if their matter is urgent.
A list of the hotlines, email addresses and Facebook accounts of all courts nationwide may be accessed through – http://sc.judiciary.gov.ph/hotlines/.
B. Urgent matters that may be acted upon by the courts during ECQ
Note that under Administrative Circular No. 32-2020, a court will only act upon the concern raised if it determines that it is an urgent matter. While not exhaustive, the Supreme Court in an earlier issuance identified matters as urgent:
o Petitions, motions and pleadings in relation to bail;
o Petitions, motions and pleadings in relation to habeas corpus;
o Promulgation of judgments of acquittals;
o Reliefs for those who may be arrested during the ECQ period; and
o Other related actions filed in relation to measures imposed at the local or national levels to address the declared health emergency
C. Suspension of court actions not deemed urgent matters
Accordingly, all court actions not considered urgent and scheduled during the period from 15 March 2020 until 30 April 2020 are suspended and shall be rescheduled. For court actions with prescribed periods, these periods shall likewise be extended for thirty (30) calendar days counted from 1 May 2020.
D. Electronic submissions to courts
With respect to the filing of petitions and appeals, complaints, motions, pleadings and other court submissions due up to 30 April 2020, the Supreme Court granted an extension of 30 calendar days from 1 May 2020. Nevertheless, parties may still make submissions within the reglementary period on or before 30 April 2020 through electronic means, if available.
While the courts shall remain physically closed to all court users, the courts shall continue to operate from 9:00am to 3:00pm, Monday to Friday until April 30, 2020. All electronic communications referred to above, must be transmitted by court users from 8:30am to 2:00pm.
Particular to the electronic filing of criminal complaints, informations, and posting of bails, the Supreme Court under Administrative Circular No.33-2020 dated 31 March 2020 and OCA Circular No. 89-2020 dated 3 April 2020 further provided the following guidelines:
1. Filing of criminal complaints and informations
o The Judge shall personally evaluate the same within three (3) days from the filing of the Complaint or Information. Thereafter -
- The Judge may either dismiss it outright, or
- If the Judge finds probable cause, he or she shall issue a warrant of arrest or commitment order.
- In case of doubt on the existence of probable cause, the Judge may order the prosecutor to submit, through electronic transmission, additional evidence within three (3) days from notice and the issue must be resolved by the court within ten (10) days from the filing of the Complaint or Information.
o All court orders, pleadings, and other submissions electronically submitted must be in PDF format. In addition, pieces of evidence which are not documentary in nature may be photographed and converted into PDF, but must be authenticated by a certification of the person submitting such evidence as a true photo reproduction thereof. All pleadings must be under oath and indicate the case number, case title, and the caption, title or heading of the pleading.
2. Posting of Bail
o The initial online submission of requirements for bail may be availed of by an accused who has been charged during or before the court prior to the start of this public health emergency period.
o The Judge shall determine if the accused shall be admitted to bail as a matter of right. If so, and once the accused has submitted all the requirements for bail, which may also be electronically transmitted to the court, the Judge shall examine the same, and if complete and compliant, shall sign the approval of the bail and the consequent release order.
o The Judge on duty may reduce the amount of bail initially fixed, upon motion of the accused and after giving the prosecutor the opportunity to comment within a non-extendible period of twenty-four (24) hours from the filing, which motion and order to file comment thereon may also be sent electronically.
o Actions on the reduction of bail shall be decided within twenty-four (24) hours from the expiration of the period to comment on the motion for reduction of bail, with or without comment from the prosecutor.
o The approval of the bail and the consequent release order shall then be electronically transmitted to the Executive Judge who, within the same day shall transmit the same to the proper law enforcement authority or detention facility to enable the release of the accused.
3. Payment of court fees related to electronic submissions
o Payment of all court fees related to an electronically transmitted complaint or information, and all other court submissions for purposes of bail, shall be coursed through any branch of the Land Bank of the Philippines.
o The online assessment shall include the amount to be deposited and the specific account where the amount shall be deposited. 
 Memorandum of the Executive Secretary dated 16 March 2020 on Community Quarantine Over the Entire Luzon and Further Guidelines for the Management of the Coronavirus Disease 2019 (Covid-19) Situation dated 16 March 2020 (the "Guidelines"); Section 3(b) of the Guidelines defines ECQ measure "where strict home quarantine shall be implemented in all households; transportation shall be suspended; provision for food and essential health services shall be regulated; and heightened presence of uniformed personnel to enforce quarantine procedures will be implemented".
 Memorandum of the Executive Secretary dated 7 April 2020 on Extension of the Enhanced Community Quarantine Over the Entire Luzon Until 30 April 2020.
 Administrative Circular No. 32-2020 dated 20 March 2020; Administrative Circular No. 34-2020 dated 8 April 2020.
 5, Administrative Circular No. 31-2020 dated 16 March 2020, on Rising Cases of COVID-19 Infection.
 8, Administrative Circular No. 34-2020 dated 8 April 2020.
 7, Administrative Circular No. 34-2020 dated 8 April 2020.
 Administrative Circular No. 34-2020 dated 8 April 2020.
 2 and 8, Administrative Circular No. 33-2020 dated 31 March 2020.
 2, Administrative Circular No. 33-2020 dated 31 March 2020.
 3, Administrative Circular No. 33-2020 dated 31 March 2020.
 5, OCA Circular No. 89-2020 dated 3 April 2020.
 1 and 6, Administrative Circular No. 33-2020 dated 31 March 2020.
 4, Administrative Circular No. 33-2020 dated 31 March 2020.