IBP appeals to include lawyers in COVID-19 vaccination priority list

The Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP) called on the to add lawyers to the COVID-19 priority list.

IBP president Domingo Cayosa wrote a letter to National Task Force Against COVID-19 chairman and Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana asking to include lawyers in the A4 vaccination group, the category for frontline personnel in essential sectors, uniformed personnel, and local officials.

“Courts and other tribunals as well as necessary physical contact between lawyers and their clients have been proven spreaders of the COVID-19 virus,” Cayosa said in a letter dated March 30.

“Quite a number of , prosecutors, and practicing lawyers have succumbed to the COVID-19 virus, despite repeated site or area lockdowns and travel restrictions.”

Cayosa also noted that lawyers play a significant role in encouraging the public to support the government in addressing the pandemic.

“IBP officers, members, and chapters all over our country have been proactively supporting COVID-19 patients, health workers, and frontliners and we effectively collaborated with government agencies and local government units in educating the public about laws and ordinances pertaining to the pandemic,” he said.

IBP appeals to include lawyers in COVID-19 vaccination priority list

“More importantly, the presence of preferred counsel is constitutionally required especially for those charged with criminal offenses, and lawyers are deemed essential ‘officers of the court’ in their mandate to dispense justice, maintain peace and order, and safeguard public under the rule of law.”

Earlier, NTF included employees of the judiciary in the A4 category following the request of the Supreme Court.

“Indeed, through its adjudicatory functions, the judiciary is an essential institution in the justice sector that works hand-in-hand with the executive branch of government to effectively perform its task of maintaining peace and order and safeguarding public welfare in accordance with the rule of law,” Acting Chief Justice Estela Perlas Bernabe said Monday.

The Supreme Court has allocated P19 million for the purchase of vaccines for their employees which includes over 30,000 justices, judges, officials, and employees.

“With the NTF’s favorable action on our request, the details of implementation shall be immediately worked out in order to swiftly roll out the inoculation program soonest,” Bernabe said.