THE Integrated Bar of the Philippines has asked the National Task Force Against Covid-19 (NTF) and the Inter-Agency Task Force against Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF) to include lawyers in the list of priority groups for Covid-19 vaccination.
In a letter dated March 30, the IBP, through its national president Domingo Egon Cayosa, insisted that lawyers should be included in the A4 priority population, which includes frontline personnel in essential sectors, including uniformed personnel and those in working sectors identified by the IATF as essential during community curbs.
Cayosa explained that lawyers are working as frontline personnel since the start of the pandemic by “proactively supporting Covid-19 patients, health workers and frontliners” as well as through collaboration with government agencies and local government units in “educating the public about laws and ordinances pertaining to the pandemic.”
“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 welfare under the rule of law,” Cayosa said.
He noted that there were judges, prosecutors and practicing lawyers who lost their lives due to Covid-19 , despite repeated site or area lockdowns and travel restrictions.
“The legal frontliners are particularly at risk and should be similarly protected,” Cayosa added.
Earlier, the Supreme Court announced that the IATF and NTF have agreed to include at least 30,000 judiciary employees nationwide under its A4 category.
These include “permanent, casual and coterminous” employees.
The SC has earlier allotted P19 million to procure Covid-19 vaccines for justices, judges, court officials and personnel.