Courts outside Metro Manila ask SC for rapid testing too

Court judges and employees outside Metro Manila have appealed to the Supreme Court to also provide rapid testing for them as the judiciary fully reopens nationwide alongside the easing of lockdowns.

Supreme Court Associate Justice Marvic Leonen was asked that question in a webinar Court Appointments Watch, held on Wednesday, June 3.

"I will relay that to my colleagues but you know all of us are wanting to rapid test everybody.... But we also know that that will mean a large expenditure on our part and of course that there are also efforts to try to coordinate with local governments that have the funds in order to be able to help us with rapid testing," Leonen said.

A judge from San Fernando, Pampanga, pointed out that there was no "wide consultation" made with trial court judges.

Another webinar participant said that a court employee who was considered a suspected coronavirus case died in their province, but all staff members were required to report to the office because of the easing of the lockdown.

In a message to reporters, Court Administrator Midas Marquez said rapid testing "was only offered to National Capital Judicial Region judges because National Capital Region is/was epicenter."

Leonen also said that some Metro Manila judges refused to undergo rapid testing.

"That to me is a very grave disappointment in terms of our lower court judges, kung ayaw, maraming dahilan (there are so many excuses if you don't want it). Here we are, the Court spending as much of its resources as possible to protect its personnel, and they do not want to take advantage of it," he said.

Marquez said the rapid testing was not mandatory. "It was voluntary so there were a number of judges who availed. Others maybe did not see the need because they had no symptoms," he said.

From May 26 to 29, the Supreme Court had provided rapid testing to a total of 1,698 personnel.

On Wednesday, the Supreme Court announced that the Municipal Trial Court in Cities (MTCC) in Meycauayan, Bulacan, suspended work on Wednesday after their building was temporarily closed. The Supreme Court has not answered yet whether it was related to coronavirus infection. – Rappler.com

Lian Buan

Lian Buan covers justice and corruption for Rappler. She is interested in decisions, pleadings, audits, contracts, and other documents that establish a trail. If you have leads, email lian.buan@rappler.com or tweet @lianbuan.

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