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SC OKs vaccine procurement for judiciary workers

The Supreme Court announced yesterday that it will procure coronavirus disease 2019 vaccines for the entire judiciary.

In a statement, the high court said the measure was taken up during its en banc session on Jan. 26 where it 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, Fiscal Management and Budget Office, and the Office of the Court Administrator.

“The estimated cost of around P19 million will be chargeable against the respective regular appropriations or savings, as the case may be, of the Supreme Court, Presidential Electoral Tribunal, Court of Appeals, Sandiganbayan, Court of Tax Appeals, and the lower courts,” the tribunal said.

The measure will cover more than 30,000 members of the judiciary.

“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,” it added.

The court referred the matter to the Procurement Planning Committee for appropriate action.

Chief Justice Diosdado Peralta, meanwhile, said he will coordinate with the national government, through the National Task Force Against Covid-19 and the Department of Health, regarding the matter.

“We hope that the national government will assist us in our initiative, considering the important role that the Judiciary plays in ensuring that the rule of law prevails, especially during times of crisis and national emergencies,” Peralta said.

SUSPENDED

The Department of Trade and Industry, meanwhile, has suspended the consolidation of orders for Covid-19 vaccines from small and medium enterprises, Secretary Ramon Lopez said Wednesday.

Lopez said there were around 10 companies that tapped the DTI for the procurement of vaccines, mostly for their workers only, even as the DTI has yet to come up with the guidelines for the consolidation of vaccine orders.

He added the orders from the 10 SMEs are “minimal quantity” and these can be covered by the vaccine purchases of the government.

“But the latest from the vaccine committee is we suspend the consolidation since there will be more than enough government purchases and current tripartite agreements to cover vaccination of all front-liners, including the economic frontliners and workers,” he told reporters in Viber message.

Big firms procured their vaccine orders through the government under a tripartite agreement with the national government and Covid-19 vaccine developer AstraZeneca.

Under the “A Dose of Hope” initiative led by Presidential Adviser for Entrepreneurship, Joey Concepcion, the large enterprises were able to procure 19.6 million doses of AstraZeneca vaccine -first was the order for 2.6 million doses in November 2020, followed by the 17 million doses ordered last month.

In a Palace briefing yesterday, Lopez said the Covid-19 vaccine rollout will help boost consumer and business confidence.

“Definitely, it will have a positive effect. It will definitely regain much of the loss in consumer confidence, and next to that is business confidence,” he said.*PNA

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