Palace stands by IATF rule requiring senior citizens to stay home
This undated file photo shows senior citizens wearing face masks.
The STAR/Walter Bollozos, file
Palace stands by IATF rule requiring senior citizens to stay home
Alexis Romero ( - September 29, 2020 - 7:54pm

MANILA, Philippines — Malacañang on Tuesday defended the government's restriction on movements of senior citizens, saying it is meant to protect them from COVID-19.

A retired government official has urged the Supreme Court to stop the Duterte administration from imposing pandemic-related restrictions that supposedly violate the rights of senior citizens.

Lawyer Eugenio Insigne has argued that the restrictions violate the constitution, deny senior citizens freedom of choice and cause severe negative mental and psychological impact.

Presidential spokesman Harry Roque said the Inter-Agency Task Force on the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF) cannot be bothered by the petition.

"That's his right. But the IATF stands by the view that the prohibition on the movement of seniors is borne by science and medicine," Roque said at a press briefing.

Roque said senior citizens and those with existing health conditions are dying of COVID-19 worldwide.

"While we do not wish to preempt the Supreme Court, I think this case will not prosper because one of the acknowledged powers of the state has the power of police power. The basis for the exercise of police power is to protect the health of seniors," the Palace spokesman said.

"So to the petitioner, the prohibition against the movement outside your residence except for work and to procure necessities is for your own benefit. It is to protect your lives amid the proven fact that most of the people dying of COVID-19 are senior citizens," he added. 

The Commission on Human Rights in August reminded quarantine enforcers to allow senior citizens to leave their homes for work and to get necessities like food and medicine.

Memorandum Circular No. 2020-110, issued by the Department of Interior and Local Government that month, provides that older persons may still go out of their residences if the purpose is to obtain essential goods and services or for essential work and permitted activities. It also directs local governments, along with the national police and other frontliners, "to allow older persons to cross borders for medical and/or humanitarian purposes" and respect their freedom of movement. 

"We emphasize that these rules do not undermine the risks for older persons of contracting COVID-19 when going outside their residences because it balances the need to protect everyone against the disease while respecting the various circumstances that different older persons are in," the CHR said then.

"It recognizes that not all older persons have people to rely on to go outside to procure basic needs and that some older persons need to go out to maintain their physical and mental health and well-being," it also said.

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