MANILA (UPDATE)— The Supreme Court has earmarked some P19 million to procure COVID-19 vaccines for its over 30,000-strong workforce, including officials, judges, justices, and employees of the judiciary, it announced on Thursday.
In a statement from its Public Information Office, the High Court said it approved the decision on Jan. 26 during an en banc session.
This was also upon the recommendation of the Office of Administrative Services (OAS), Fiscal Management and Budget Office (FMBO), and the Office of the Court Administrator (OCA).
"The vaccination of all judiciary employees especially those in
the lower courts will mean that our judges and their personnel,
who have direct contact with litigants and lawyers on a daily basis,
will be further protected from the [virus]," the statement read.
"This in turn will ensure that our courts will be able to better function and serve the public during the pandemic," it added.
The judiciary's budget for the vaccine, according to the statement, will come from the regular appropriations or savings of the Supreme Court, Presidential Electoral Tribunal, Court of Appeals, Sandiganbayan, Court of Tax Appeals, and the lower courts.
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Meanwhile, Chief Justice Diosdado Peralta will coordinate with the national government, health department, and the pandemic task force for the vaccine procurement.
"We hope that the national government will assist us in our initiative considering the important role which the Judiciary plays in ensuring that the rule of law prevails especially during times of crisis and national emergencies," Peralta was quoted as saying.
The High Court already directed the matter to its Procurement Planning Committee for action.
Asked if the chief magistrate will get vaccinated first, Supreme Court spokesperson Brian Keith Hosaka said, “I’m sure if there are no restrictions as determined by his doctors, he would set the example. CJ Peralta has always believed in 'leadership by example'.’”
— With a report from Mike Navallo, ABS-CBN News