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Duterte revokes IATF decision allowing minors in MGCQ areas to go out

Christian Deiparine (Philstar.com) - January 25, 2021 - 10:30pm

MANILA, Philippines — President Rodrigo Duterte on Monday took back his coronavirus task force's pronouncement allowing more children to step out of their homes which groups and even local chief executives have opposed.

Government announced last week that it is expanding the age group which can leave their houses to include minors who are 10-years-old or older beginning February 1.

The move came as the country further reopens this year, its economy that had plunged into recession for the first time in three decades due to the pandemic.

But in his weekly public address, Duterte shot down the new rule, citing the threat of the new coronavirus variant first detected in the United Kingdom that has since reached the country. 

"In our desire to protect our people, I am compelled to reimpose the restriction," he said in mixed English and Filipino. "Not at this time. It's a sacrifice for the parents and for the children."

Before the task force rolled out the easing of the restriction, those between 15 to 65 were the only ones allowed to go out in the existing quarantine classifications. 

But it has since been relaxed beginning October 2020, when the administration shifted from telling people to stay indoors to enjoining them to go out to boost economic activity.

The National Economic and Development Authority has long been pushing to allow more age groups to go out again, noting that 50% of economic activities are driven by family activities and hence, critical to the country’s recovery. This means that if kids are restricted from going out, essentially parents are also kept inside to take care of them.

Data from the population commission showed that as of July 2020, around 69.7 million Filipinos are permitted out by the supposed new policy. That would represent 64.1% of the estimated 108.77 million Filipinos.

Before the order was rescinded, Trade Secretary Ramon Lopez was for the IATF's move, which he said would foster "family bonding." 

"Ang importante ho magkakasama 'yung buong pamilya at nagpapalakas pa sila ng ekonomiya," he said. "Again, they account for 30% to 50% ng spending, ng 'yung pagbenta kapag nasa labas."

(What's important is families are together and they help boost the economy. They account for 30% to 50% of the spending when they're outside.)

But the plan on the further relaxing of the said restriction did not sit well with others, including Metro Manila mayors who were in consensus that they are opposed to it, per Parañaque's Edwin Olivarez.

Over the weekend, the Philippine Pediatric Society and the Pediatric Infectious Disease Society of the Philippines also sought to "reaffirm their position" against it.

The development on Monday night was not the first time that Duterte revoked his own task force's rule. 

In September of last year, he also took back the transportation department's decision to reduce the required one-meter physical distance in public transportation to 0.75, amid a heightening debate over the move.

IATF NOVEL CORONAVIRUS RODRIGO DUTERTE
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