SyCipLaw Bulletin # 1: Philippine Government Declares Community Quarantine over Metro Manila from March 15 to April 14

A. Philippine Government Declares Community Quarantine over Metro Manila from March 15 to April 14
 
On March 12, 2020, the Philippine Government’s Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Disease (IATF-EID )  issued Resolution No. 11, s. 2020, which —

1. Raises the alert level under the Code Alert System for the COVID-19 public health event to Code Red Sublevel Two (2)

2. Imposes a Community Quarantine in Metro Manila. Metro Manila is the National Capital Region that includes the cities of Manila, Makati, Quezon City, Taguig, Pasig and Mandaluyong.   
The quarantine is for the period starting from March 15, 2020 and ending on April 14, 2020, subject to daily review by the IATF-EID.
 
By reason of the quarantine, there is a general travel ban into and out of the Metro Manila area. Mass gatherings are prohibited during the quarantine period. Officials will release guidelines to clarify the impact of the travel ban, particularly on movement of goods and individuals who live outside Metro Manila but who work in the area. Plans to visit or have meetings in Metro Manila during this period should be revisited. Mass public transport within Metro Manila will continue operations.
 
Persons coming from countries with local transmissions of the virus will not be allowed entry into the Philippines, except Filipino citizens, their foreign spouse and children, permanent residents, and holders of diplomatic visas. Filipinos with employment in China may travel to China provided it is not to Hubei province (where Wuhan is located), and subject to their signing of a statement that they understand the risks arising from such travel.

3. Imposes guidelines on localized community quarantine to be followed by local government units. 

4. Suspends work in the Executive Branch of the government. 
This is without prejudice to the formation of skeletal workforces by government agencies in order to maintain the unimpeded delivery of services to the public. Health and emergency frontline services are to continue in full operation. This suspension will impact the timing for filing of any application, or processing of any pending application, with government agencies such as the Securities and Exchange Commission.
 
The Insurance Commission has posted a notice[1] at its official website that it will implement a work suspension from March 16 to April 12. Its Receiving Section will however be open on March 16, from 8 AM to 5 PM.

5. Encourages flexible work arrangements in the private sector. 

The resolution does not impose the temporary closing of offices and establishments including those in the manufacturing, retail or service sectors (although all classes at all levels are suspended until April 14, 2020). The Department of Labor and Employment and the Department of Trade and Industry will issue guidelines on welfare of workers; it is expected that these will set out rules on leave benefits and payment of salaries during the quarantine period.

 
B. Supreme Court Suspends Court Hearings at All Levels

On March 12, 2020, the Philippine Supreme Court issued Supreme Court Administrative Circular No. 26-2020, suspending all hearings at all court levels in the country from March 13, 2020 to March 18, 2020. However, Philippine courts will remain open, and parties may still go to courts to transact business, such as file pleadings. During the period of suspension of hearings, justices and judges are directed to reset hearings and inform the parties of new schedules, issue orders and decisions, and act on pending matters before their respective courts.
 

C. SEC Requires Listed Companies to Disclose COVID-19-related Risk 

The Philippine Securities and Exchange Commission is requiring all publicly-listed companies to apprise the public of the risk and impact of COVID-19 on their  operations[2]. The disclosure must be made through SEC Form 17-C and must include all the measures taken or will be undertaken by the publicly-listed company to mitigate the risk of the COVID-19. It also has to be submitted to the Philippine Stock and Exchange (using PSE EDGE) on or before 12:00 noon of March 16.


[1] See reports posted at the Philippine News Agency (https://www.pna.gov.ph/articles/1096467) and Manila Times (https://www.manilatimes.net/2020/03/12/second-headline/duterte-orders-community-quarantine-in-metro-manila/702673/).

[2] See http://www.sec.gov.ph/wp-content/uploads/2020/03/2020Notice_FilingOfCurrentReportSec17SRC.pdf.


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