CITING court activities as virus spreader, the Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP) urged the government to seriously consider the inclusion of lawyers in the priority groups under the COVID-19 vaccination program.
In a March 30 letter addressed to the National Task Force Against COVID-19, IBP president Domingo Cayosa underscored the need for lawyers to be part of the priority population group A4, which includes frontline personnel in essential sectors, uniformed personnel and local officials like governors, mayors and barangays 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,” reads Cayosa’s letter.
“Quite a number of judges, prosecutors, and practicing lawyers have succumbed to the COVID-19 virus, despite repeated site or area lockdowns and travel restrictions.”
He likewise cited the crucial role of the lawyers in encouraging the public to cooperate with government authorities in addressing the health crisis.
“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.
“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.”