SyCipLaw Bulletin # 4: IATF releases additional guidelines for the implementation of the Enhanced Community Quarantine in Luzon; Supreme Court orders physical closure of all courts nationwide

A. IATF releases additional guidelines for the implementation of the Enhanced Community Quarantine in Luzon from March 17 to 12 midnight of April 13

1. The Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Disease (IATF) issued Resolution No. 14 on March 22, 2020 [1]. The salient points are as follows:

1.1. Visa issuance to all foreign nationals is suspended with immediate effect;

1.2. Visa-free privileges based on Visa Waiver Agreements, those under Executive Order 408, s.1960, holders of Hong Kong and Macau SAR passports, Macau-Portuguese passports and British National Overseas passports are also suspended effective 22 March 2020; 

1.3. Foreign spouses and children of Filipinos are exempted from the above suspension; and

1.4. Foreign nationals with visas previously issued by Foreign Service Posts (FSPs) will not be allowed entry into the country starting 22 March 2020, except:

a. Accredited Foreign Government and International Organization officials and their dependents; and 

b. Foreign spouses and children of Filipino nationals whose visas will remain valid and will be honored when entering the country even after said date. The DFA is expected to issue an implementing circular on this matter.

2. The resolution reiterated the IATF’s policy on unimpeded movement of all types of cargo (food and non-food), and allow the passage of personnel of business establishments permitted to operate during the Enhanced Community Quarantine, subject to the presentation of proof of employment, and residence. 

3. The deadline given to BPOs and export-oriented establishments (including those inside economic zones), to prepare for their respective alternative work arrangements, such as the setting of the temporary accommodations for their workers, the need to shuttle employees, the transfer of necessary equipment to facilitate work from home arrangements, was extended until 11:59 PM of March 22. 

4. The period for the issuance of the IATF Accredited IDs was extended to March 26, 2020. Until then, holders of bona fide IDs issued by exempted establishments or offices shall continue to be honored by law enforcement agencies so as to exempt the bearers thereof from the strict home quarantine requirements.  

IATF Accredited IDs are IDs issued by the agency that administers or regulates the exempted enterprise.[3]

5. The resolution amended previous guidelines on exemptions to strict home quarantine and provided for exemptions to the persons listed below but with strict compliance to skeleton workforce arrangement and strict social distancing:

a. Members of Congress and their Chiefs of Staff;

b. Secretaries, Undersecretaries, Assistant Secretaries, and Bureau Directors of the different government agencies under the Executive Branch;

c. Ombudsman and their Deputy Ombudsmen;

d. Justices of the Supreme Court, Court of Appeals, Court of Tax Appeals and the Sandiganbayan, as well as their respective skeleton-workforce;

e. Judges of Regional, Metropolitan, and Municipal Circuit Trial Courts and Prosecutors, as well as their respective skeleton-workforce;

f. Local Chief Executives – The close-in staff necessary to or connected to the movement of the executive enumerated are likewise granted the exemption.

g. At most three (3) personnel operating cargo vehicles and delivery service vehicles for food, drinking water, medicine, and other basic necessities, with or without load;

h. Employees of:

(i) Manufacturing and Processing Plants of Basic Food Products, Essential Products, Medicine and Medical Supplies:

– All Food

– Essential and Hygiene Products (soap and detergents, diapers, feminine hygiene products, tissue, wipes/and toilet papers, disinfectants)

– Medicines and Vitamins

– Medical Products (e.g., personal protective equipment, masks and gloves, etc.)

(ii) Retail Establishments (Groceries, Supermarkets, Hypermarkets, Convenience Stores, Public Markets, Pharmacies and Drug Stores)

(iii) Logistics Service Providers (Cargo Handling, Warehousing, Trucking, Freight Forwarding, and Shipping Line)

(iv) Hospitals and Medical Clinics

(v) Food Preparations and Water Refilling Stations

(vi) Delivery Services, whether in-house or outsourced, Transporting only Food, Water, Medicine or other Basic Necessities

(vii) Banks and Capital Markets, per Section 5 of IATF Resolution No. 13 dated March 17, 2020 

(viii) Power, Energy, Water, IT and Telecommunications Supplies and Facilities, Waste Disposal Services

(ix) Export and Business Process Outsourcing (BPO) Companies.

(x) Airline and aircraft maintenance employees, including pilot and crew, and ship captain and crew.

(xi) Media establishments; Provided, that the number of exempted employees be limited to but fifty (50%) percent of their total permanent staff complement as registered under the DOLE; Provided further, that such maximum limit includes reporters and other field employees as may be accredited by the PCOO; 

(xii) Hotels that have bookings as of 17 March 2020; 

(xiii) Energy companies and their third-party contractors, including such employees involved in electric transmission and distribution, electric power plant and line maintenance, as well as those involved in exploration, operations, trading and delivery of coal, oil or any kind of fuel used to produce electricity; and

(xiv) Under “Telecommunication utilities”, the Telecommunications-related work force, i.e., Telecommunications companies (TelCos), Internet Service Providers (ISPs), Cable TV Providers (CATV), including those who perform indirect services such as the security, technical, sales and other support personnel, as well as employees of their third-party contractors doing sales, installation, maintenance and repair works.

i. Pastors, priests, imams or such other religious ministers whose movement shall be related to the conduct of necrological or funeral rites; and

j. Heads of Mission or designated Foreign Mission Representatives, including a limited number of their personnel or staff. 

For more information about IATF Resolution No. 14, please contact your account partner or the authors of this client alert:

Rose Marie M. King-Dominguez
Partner
rmmking@syciplaw.com

Arlene M. Maneja
Partner
ammaneja@syciplaw.com

B. Supreme Court orders physical closure of all courts nationwide and releases hotlines and e-mail addresses of courts

On March 20, 2020, the Supreme Court issued Administrative Circular No. 32-2020, ordering that all courts nationwide, from the Supreme Court to the first level courts, shall be physically closed to all court users and may be reached only through their respective hotlines, e-mail addresses, and Facebook accounts (if available), effective March 23, 2020. The circular was issued in line with the appeal of the Philippine Government for the general public to stay at home to prevent the further spread of COVID-19 infection.

The circular advises all litigants, lawyers, prosecutors, and the general public to first contact the proper court through its hotline, e-mail address, or Facebook account regarding a matter. The court will then determine if the matter being raised is urgent and, if the matter is urgent, the justice or judge on-duty, together with a skeletal-staff, will go to court to act on the matter. The court personnel need not go to the court if it is determined that there is no urgent matter to be acted upon.

The list of hotlines, e-mail addresses, and Facebook accounts of all courts nationwide, which is attached as Annex A to the circular, can be accessed at http://sc.judiciary.gov.ph/wp-content/uploads/2020/03/Hotlines.pdf.

For more information about Supreme Court Administrative Circular No. 32-2020, please contact your account partner or the author of this client alert:

Ronald Mark C. Lleno
Partner
rmclleno@syciplaw.com


[1] Salient Points of IATF Resolution No. 14 As delivered by Cabinet Secretary Carlo Nograles. People’s Television Network News; https://ptvnews.ph/salient-points-of-iatf-resolution-no-14-as-delivered-by-cabinet-secretary-karlo-nograles/?fbclid=IwAR26KowQAqm7Xjt7Rzes5KDzJmDiBmwlD8RTLKPqnDjWBuFG6BXtVpgnBhElast visited at 11:00 AM on March 23, 2020.


[2] IATF Resolution No. 12, http://www.covid19.gov.ph/wp-content/uploads/2020/03/IATF-RESO-12.pdflast visited at 11:15 AM on March 23, 2020.


[3] IATF Resolution No. 13, http://www.covid19.gov.ph/wp-content/uploads/2020/03/IATF-RESO-13.pdflast visited at 11:28 AM on March 23, 2020.


This bulletin contains a summary of the items set out above. It was prepared by SyCip Salazar Hernandez & Gatmaitan (SyCipLaw) to update its clients with recent legal developments. This does not constitute legal advice or an opinion of SyCipLaw or any of its lawyers.
 
This bulletin is only a guide material and SyCipLaw makes no representation in respect of its completeness and accuracy. You should check the official version of the declaration and its implementing rules and regulations.
 
No portion of this advisory may be copied or reproduced in books, pamphlets, outlines or notes, whether printed, mimeographed, typewritten, copied in different electronic devices or in any other form, for distribution or sale, or reposted or forwarded without the prior written consent of SyCipLaw.

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