Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP) President Domingo Egon Cayosa has urged the government to list consider lawyers as part of the priority group who should get vaccinated against the COVIDC-19 virus.
Cayosa made the appeal in a March 30 letter addressed to National Task Force COVID-19 (NTF) Chairman and Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana.
“Courts and other tribunals as well as necessary physical contact between lawyers and their clients have been proven spreaders of the COVID 19 virus. Quite a number of judges, prosecutors and practicing lawyers have succumbed to the COVID 19 virus, despite repeated safe or area lockdowns and travel restrictions. The legal frontliners are particularly at risk and should be similarly protected,” he lamented.
“In view of the above circumstances and the need for the justice sector to be operational in these trying and challenging times, we respectfully request that lawyers be included in the priority population group A4 (frontline personnel in essential public and private sectors that are directly client facing and cannot dutifully meet minimum public health standards) of the Philippine National Deployment and Vaccination Plan for COVID 19 Vaccines,” Cayosa pleaded.
Cayosa reminded Lorenzana that the legal profession has “led in encouraging our countrymen to cooperate with government authorities in addressing the health emergency.”
“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 noted.
“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,” he added.