Palace stands by senior restrictions
Palace officials issued the statement after a retired government official urged the Supreme Court to stop the administration from imposing pandemic-related restrictions that supposedly violate the rights of senior citizens.
Walter Bollozos
Palace stands by senior restrictions
Alexis Romero (The Philippine Star) - September 30, 2020 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — Malacañang yesterday defended the government’s restriction on the movement of senior citizens, saying it was meant to protect them from COVID-19.

Palace officials issued the statement after a retired government official urged the Supreme Court (SC) to stop the administration from imposing pandemic-related restrictions that supposedly violate the rights of senior citizens.

Lawyer Eugenio Insigne said the restrictions violate the Constitution, deny senior citizens’ freedom of choice and cause negative mental and psychological impact.

Presidential spokesman Harry Roque said the Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF) for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases is not 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, referring to Insigne.

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 is the police power. The basis for the exercise of police power is to protect the health of seniors,” he 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,” Roque added.

Meanwhile, a group of jeepney drivers yesterday filed a petition before the SC, asking to stop the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB), IATF and the Department of Transportation (DOTr) from suspending public transport.

The petitioners questioned the constitutionality of some of the orders issued by the LTFRB, IATF and DOTr.

Named respondents in the petition were IATF chair and Health Secretary Francisco Duque III, co-chair and Cabinet Secretary Karlo Alexei Nograles, LTFRB chair Martin Delgra and DOTr Secretary Arthur Tugade.

The petitioners hoped the high court would issue a judgment declaring the orders null and void, saying these violate the 1987 Constitution and international law.

They said the respondents violated the principle of separation of powers in suspending public transportation and discriminated against traditional public utility jeepneys (PUJs).

The groups said the respondents unlawfully exercised police power when they blatantly disregarded the petitioners’ right to due process and violated the equal protection clause when they discriminated against the petitioners. – Evelyn Macairan, Sheila Crisostomo

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