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Reconsider travel limits for senior citizens in ECQ and GCQ areas, IATF-EID urged

/ 05:55 PM April 29, 2020

MANILA, Philippines — Several lawmakers have asked the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-EID) to reconsider its move to bar senior citizens living in areas placed on either enhanced or general community quarantine from leaving their homes.

Senior Citizens Partylist Rep. Francisco Datol Jr., who chairs the House committee on senior citizen’s affairs, said that senior citizens should be allowed to go outside “to move around” as long as they are practicing social distancing.

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“Especially those who live alone, we should not isolate them in their homes, as such may be detrimental to their health. They should be allowed to do their errands and work if they are still able,” Datol said.

Meanwhile, 1PACMAN Partylist Rep. Eric Pineda proposed that those below 70 years old “without any high-risk health conditions” must still be allowed to go outside their homes despite the prevailing strict quarantine in their areas.

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“Key executives in corporations are seniors. The majority of cabinet members are over 60, even President Duterte is a senior citizen, more than 100 congressmen are over 60 years old,” Pineda pointed out.

“I’m not saying that everyone should be allowed out because many seniors do have health problems — but there should be exemptions, maybe allow those below 70 years old without any high-risk health conditions,” the lawmaker added.

Both Datol and Pineda noted that many senior citizens are still strong and are either employed or maintaining their business.

“We don’t need to completely disallow them from leaving their homes just because of their age,” Pineda and Datol said.

For Kabayan Partylist Rep. Ron Salo, IATF-EID’s move may be deemed as “inhumane at worst or ill-thought of at the least.”

The lawmaker said that senior citizens should still be allowed to “enjoy their freedom” as long as they comply with health protocols such as wearing face masks and regular handwashing, among others.

“Protecting them from COVID-19 does not justify complete disregard of their civil liberties as well as their right for gainful employment and practice of their profession,” Salo said.

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“No less than our President, most members of the Supreme Court and Cabinet officials, as well as Chairpersons of most companies, belong to this category,” he added.

Cagayan de Oro City 2nd District Rep. Rufus Rodriguez likewise asked the IATF-EID to reconsider such a policy.

According to Rodriguez, he received complaints from some of his senior citizen-friends as well as constituents.

“I can understand and even share their sentiments. Like many of us public officials who are 60 years old and above, they are physically fit to work and move around,” Rodriguez said.

“Some have retired from the government or the private sector, and a big number of them now run their own small businesses while some are captains of industry,” he added.

Some of the complainants, Rodriguez also said, invoked their freedom or liberty to travel and the equal protection clause of the Constitution.

“They are claiming that it’s even more dangerous for their physical and mental health to continue to be kept in their homes, especially those who live by themselves alone or with their spouses,” Rodriguez said.

Under the enhanced community quarantine regulations, senior citizens are not allowed to leave their homes to protect them from contracting COVID-19 since most patients are aged 60 and above.

The Commission on Human Rights has also asked the national government to reconsider the travel restrictions imposed on senior citizens.

KGA

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