IBP asks gov't to include lawyers in frontline personnel category on priority vaccination list

Kristine Joy Patag - Philstar.com
IBP asks gov't to include lawyers in frontline personnel category on priority vaccination list
Health workers in Marikina City avail of COVID-19 vaccine at the Marikina Sports Center in Marikina City. The government is speeding up its distribution of vaccines to help mitigate the record-breaking numbers of new cases in recent weeks.
The STAR / Boy Santos

MANILA, Philippines — The Integrated Bar of the Philippines is asking the national task force on COVID-19 to include lawyers in the priority vaccination list in the frontliners category.

IBP National President Domingo Egon Cayosa wrote to Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana, chairman of the National Task Force COVID-19, to request that lawyers be put in the priority population group A4 (frontliner personnel) of the Philippine National Deployment and Vaccination Plan for COVID-19 vaccines.

Cayosa stressed the “need for the justice sector to be operational in these trying and challenging times.”

Frontline personnel are currently on the fourth spot on the priority list for vaccination, following medical frontliners, senior citizens and persons with comorbidities.

The IBP noted that the legal profession has been collaborating with the government in informing the public about the pandemic. The presence of legal counsels, too, is constitutionally required for those facing charges and “lawyers are deemed essential ‘offices of the court’ in their mandate to dispense justice, maintain peace and order, and safeguard public welfare under the rule of law.”

Cayosa added that courts and the necessary physical contact between lawyers and their clients “have been proven spreaders of the COVID-19 virus,” and the Judiciary has recorded “quite a number” of fatalities among the legal profession due to the coronavirus despite repeated lockdowns and travel restrictions.

“The legal frontliners are particularly at risk and should be similarly protected,” he added.

Judiciary personnel in A4 category

Earlier this week, the Supreme Court said the nearly 30,000 employees and officers of the Judiciary have been included in the A4 category in the priority vaccination list of the government.

The SC said that a portion of the vaccines arriving in April will be allotted for Judiciary personnel.

The Philippines rolled out its national vaccination program on March 1. Some cities in Metro Manila have moved to inoculation of senior citizens or those with comorbidity — A2 and A3 on the list — in the same month.

Mayors and governors in critical or high-risk areas were moved up to the priority list over the weekend and are now on the same level with medical frontliners.

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