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SC to buy own COVID-19 vaccines for entire judiciary

THE Supreme Court has given the green light for the procurement of COVID-19 vaccines for the entire judiciary.

During the en banc session last January 26, the SC approved the procurement of COVID-19 vaccines for all justices, judges, officials, and personnel of the judiciary 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 estimated cost of around P19 million will be chargeable against the respective regular appropriations or savings, as the case may be, of the SC, Presidential Electoral Tribunal, Court of Appeals, Sandiganbayan, Court of Tax Appeals, and the lower courts.

To benefit are the more than 30,000 members of the judiciary which include all justices, judges, officials, and employees.

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 SARS-CoV-2 virus.

This in turn will ensure that our courts will be able to better function and serve the public during the pandemic. The SC referred the matter to the Procurement Planning Committee for appropriate action.

Pursuant to vaccine procurement protocols, Chief Justice Diosdado M. Peralta, on behalf of the judiciary, will coordinate with the national government, through the National Task Force (NTF) against COVID-19 and the Department of Health (DOH).

Underscoring the importance of the vaccination of all judiciary members, Chief Justice Peralta said: “We hope that the bational 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.

When news about the pandemic broke, Peralta wasted no time in consulting with the other members of the SC on how to address the health concerns brought about by COVID-19.

The Court immediately came out with appropriate guidelines as precautionary measure and created a Task Force led by Court Administrator Jose Midas P. Marquez.