MANILA – Several lawmakers at the House of Representatives on Wednesday appealed to the national government to reconsider barring senior citizens from leaving their homes under the enhanced community quarantine regulations.
House senior citizens committee chair and Senior Citizens Party-list Rep. Francisco Datol Jr. Said he sees no need to “completely disallow” senior citizens from going out of their homes just because of their age, as not everyone would have poor health or ailments.
“Many of our senior citizens are still strong and gainfully employed or are active in business… Senior citizens also need to go outside to move around, as long as they are practicing social distancing,” Datol said.
“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,” he added.
House labor and employment committee chair and 1-PACMAN Party-list Rep. Enrico Pineda noted that many of the top executives of industry and officials of the national government, its agencies, and local government units are senior citizens, even President Rodrigo Duterte.
“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,” Pineda said.
Cagayan de Oro City Rep. Rufus Rodriguez said he received several complaints from senior citizens with a prevailing sentiment that if such rule is applied to them, it should also apply to other citizens, whether they are in government or the private sector.
“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. 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 said.
Rodriguez said some of the complainants are invoking their freedom or liberty to travel and the equal protection clause of the Constitution in appealing that they are allowed to go out of their homes.
“They are asking the IATF (Inter-Agency Task Force on Emerging Infectious Diseases) to trust them with their own safety. They will always wash their hands, wear face masks when going out and always observe social distancing,” he added.
Kabayan Rep. Ron Salo said the IATF should reconsider this restriction to ensure that the rights of senior citizens are not “unduly curtailed, but still ensuring the protection of their health and safety.”
“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. 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,” Salo said.
“They should be allowed to enjoy their freedom, subject to strict adherence to health protocols such as wearing of masks, hand sanitation, social distancing, and the like whenever they are outside their homes,” he added. (PNA)