Stay-at-home order remains

Mary Ruth R. Malinao (The Freeman) - October 3, 2020 - 12:00am

CEBU, Philippines —  Cebu City Mayor Edgardo Labella said the city government will not lift the mandatory stay at home order for senior citizens unless ordered by the Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF).

Vice Mayor Michael Rama earlier called for the liberation of senior citizens from what he described as unfair rules and practices imposed by the city government on the elderly due to their vulnerability to the coronavirus disease (COVID-19).

"Nakasabot ko where the good vice mayor is coming from kay siya sad senior citizen, ako sad senior citizen. Pero kini man gu'ng paghimo sa mga restriction, this came from the Inter-Agency Task Force. Tanan nga gipahigayon o gilatid nga mga requirements, especially when it comes to health protocols in the midst of this coronavirus crisis, gikan man gyud sa taas," Labella said.

(I understand where the good vice mayor is coming from because he’s a senior citizen; I’m also a senior citizen. But these restrictions, these came from the Inter-Agency Task Force. All requirements, especially when it comes to health protocols in the midst of the coronavirus crisis, all came from national.)

Labella said the IATF directive preventing seniors from going out of their homes has medical and scientific basis.

"On my part, wala ko'y katungod and I do not have that authority to ease labi na kay suma sa atong gitan-aw karon, sa pagtoon sad sa mga eksperto sa panglawas, health authorities nga 60 percent or more than 60 percent of those affected with the coronavirus are the senior citizens," he added.

(On my part, I do not have the right and authority to ease, especially that based on what we’re seeing and study of our health experts and authorities, more than 60 percent of those affected by the coronavirus are senior citizens.)

He said it would be best if Rama channels his concern directly to IATF because "I cannot act on that officially, it's only the IATF."

Rama said earlier he will bring this sentiment before the IATF in the hope that a necessary adjustment on the treatment of seniors will be considered.

But Labella said what local government units can do is heighten restrictions, not loosen them up.

"Kay nakaistorya man gyud nako si Gen. Galvez, ingon siya restrictions gani sa local government nga magpahugot, the local government officials have that authority, pero og restriction gani nga magpaluag, the local government does not have that authority," Labella explained.

(I have spoken to General Galvez and he said that local governments have the authority to heighten restrictions but they do not have the authority to loosen restrictions up.)

Secretary Carlito Galvez Jr. is the chief implementer of the National Task Force on COVID-19.

As example, Labella cited the requirement of quarantine passes even under modified general community quarantine (MGCQ), which was allowed as its purpose is to put in more restriction. However, if amending his executive order would involve lifting the stay at home order, the same will not be allowed.

"With all due respect, para nako, looking at the statistics, di gyud maayo'ng luagan. We should never be complacent because the virus is still very much around... Antos lang una ta. Utong lang una ta because there is a more important reason for this -- it is the life and the health of our people," said Labella.

(With all due respect, for me, looking at the statistics, it’s not best for us to loosen restrictions up. We should never be complacent because the virus is still very much around. Let’s sacrifice for now because there is a more important reason for this – the lives and health of our people.)


Labella, though, made it clear earlier that senior citizens who live alone and have no one to run errands for them can go out even with the MGCQ restrictions.

"Naa naman na sa atong executive order nga kung wa na gyud sila'y laing masugo unya kaya pa sailang lawas, they can just make the proper explanation to our law enforcers, authorities," Labella said.

(It’s in our executive order that they can just explain to the law enforcers, authorities, if they have no one to ask to get necessities for them outside.)

"As long as they can convince nga wa na gyud sila'y laing masugo kay naa ma'y ubang mga senior nga nag-inusara. They have to prove nga wa gyud sila'y laing masugo. Unya, hinaot unta nga og mogawas sila, ang ila ra gyu'ng purpose mao ra ang pagpalit og essential goods or medicine. Dili sila magsuroy-suroy kay naa man gyud na sa national IATF nga risgo gyud ang mga senior citizen og maggawas-gawas," he added.

(As long as they can convince that they have no one else, considering we have senior citizens who live alone. They have to prove that. I just hope that when they go out, they go out only to buy essential goods or medicine, not to roam around. The national IATF has said senior citizens are at high risk when they are outside.)

Minimize Risk

Dr. Bryan Lim, an infectious disease specialist based in Cebu, said “we need to minimize their risk as much as possible.”

As of Thursday, Cebu City has a total of 673 deaths due to COVID and 57.5 percent of them are senior citizens. The same Emergency Operations Center data shows that only 27.8 percent are between 40 to 59 years old; 11.8 percent are 21 to 39 years old while 3.1 percent are 20 years old and below.

According to Lim, the stay at home order for seniors may be lifted if the following steps are followed: make sure establishments are safe; the government conducts random checks and audits to ensure that establishments follow the rules, which should be done fairly as well; the government works with the private sector to level expectations; and identify areas, endorse companies that comply with safety standards.

"Some restaurants are not strictly implementing standards; mahadlok ug badlong sa customers. This should not be. We should be strict regardless of who the customers are," Lim said.

Lim said further the steps should also include provision of surgical masks for the elderly, stressing that cloth mask is not enough for them, and surgical mask and face shields should be the standard; monitoring of areas that the elderly visit more frequently like the market, church, coffee shops, and grocery stores. — JMO (FREEMAN)

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