Court employees infected with the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in the National Capital Region (NCR) and its four adjacent provinces will now be isolated and quarantined at the De La Salle College of Saint Benilde (DLSCSB) facility on Taft Avenue in Malate, Manila.
In a statement issued on Sunday, May 9, the Supreme Court (SC) said it has partnered with the Philippine National Red Cross (PRC) and the DLSCSB on the use and availment of the latter’s temporary isolation and quarantine facility.
The PRC will manage the facility allotted to court employees with a capacity of 50 persons.
Also covered are court employees in the provinces of Bulacan, Laguna, Cavite and Rizal – which together with NCR – are referred to as the NCR Plus’ bubble. These areas are under the modified enhanced community quarantine (MECQ) until May 14.
The SC’s public information office (PIO) said that Chief Justice Alexander G. Gesmundo has issued guidelines for the admission of court employees in the DLSCSB facility.
Under the guidelines, the DLSCSB facility will accept court employees referred by the SC Medical and Dental Services (SC-MDS) “as confirmed COVID-19 positive who are asymptomatic or mild asymptomatic and they are indorsed or certified as employees of the Judiciary working in the ‘NCR Plus’ bubble by the Office of the Court Administrator (OCA).”
“The availment and use of the facility shall be on a ‘first come, first served’ basis due to the limited capacity. No walk-ins shall be allowed. Likewise, no visitors shall be allowed to enter the PRC isolation facility,” the guidelines also spelled out.
The SC-PIO said “the Court is continuously looking for other measures on how it can further help the Judiciary employees who may have contracted the COVID-19 virus and are beset with the problem of being admitted to the hospital.”
It noted that “the Court is aware that most hospitals in Metro Manila and its neighboring provinces are reaching full COVID-19 capacity and are unable to admit any more COVID-19 positive patients.”
The SC had allowed the grant of financial assistance ranging from P15,000 to P50,000 to trial court judges and personnel who got sick, hospitalized, and died due to COVID-19.
Court Administrator Jose Midas P. Marquez said the financial assistance – approved by Chief Justice Gesmundo with the concurrence of all SC justices — will be granted to employees affected by COVID-19 “from March 2020 until the current pandemic ends.”
In a circular, Marquez said the P15,000 assistance is for judges and employees who suffered mild to moderate illness; P30,000 for those who had critical illness that required — among other processes — invasive ventilation, extracorporeal oxygenation or renal replacement therapy; and P50,000 to those who died due to COVID-19 whether hospitalized or not.
SC records showed that 20 trial court officials and employees, three of them incumbent judges, have died due to COVID-19, while 1,113 officials and personnel had been and are still in various stages of infections as of April 25, 2021.
It was not known immediately how many officials and employees in the SC, Court of Appeals, Court of Tax Appeals, and Sandiganbayan have been or are still infected with COVID-19.
The country’s judiciary has about 30,000 officials and employees nationwide. They have been included in the priority list for COVID-19 vaccinations.