Working senior citizens in Luzon will not be placed on house arrest during the enforcement of the general community quarantine, the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Disease clarified on Thursday, April 30.
The task force reminded those with significant health risks and of certain age groups that they should remain in their homes unless they must perform essential activities.
“Any person below twenty-one (21) years old, those who are sixty (60) years and above, those with immunodeficiency, comorbidities, or other health risks, and pregnant women, including any person who resides with the aforementioned, shall be required to remain in their residences at all times, except when indispensable under the circumstances for obtaining essential goods and services or for work in permitted industries and offices,” it said.
Several senior citizens earlier this week appealed to the government about its directive of prohibiting senior citizens and young people from going outside during the quarantine period.
Trade Secretary Ramon Lopez, a member of the IATF, explained that the ban was just an “overall policy” due to the vulnerability of the aged segment to the coronavirus disease.
“The operating guidelines are to be issued. Of course, the seniors who are actively working or running businesses will be allowed. We will use [an] ID system,” he said.
Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque also reminded senior citizens they are vulnerable members of society.
“There are many grandmothers who called and wanted to pinch me due to the supposed house arrest for senior citizens. To our elderly, that is not true because our President and most Cabinet members are senior citizens,” he said in Filipino.
“You will not be completely locked up but I repeat that studies show the elderly people are vulnerable. You may leave the house to get essential goods and services and work in authorized industries,” the spokesman added.
Quarantine’s age restriction slammed
The Employers Confederation of the Philippines on Wednesday, April 29, pointed out that the regulation restricting those aged 60 and above, as well as the young or 20 years old and below, from leaving their homes could lead to job losses.
“By that simple regulation, you blacklist the 18 to 20 and the senior citizens from work, which can be permanent,” said ECOP president Sergio Ortiz-Luis Jr.
“They say senior citizens are endangered. Fine. But you have to help them, not make their lives difficult. Don’t discriminate against them. [Y]ou think you’re protecting them. No, you’re harming them. You’re harming the economy. That [regulation] wasn’t well thought of,” he added.
Meanwhile, 1-Pacman Rep. Enrico Pineda, head of the House of Representatives’ committee on labor and employment, called the restriction “arbitrary,” citing statistics from the Department of Health that showed the age bracket 50 to 59 make up 24 percent of novel coronavirus (COVID-19) cases in the country, and that the 60 to 69 bracket make up 26 percent.
“Thus, the age bracket 50 to 69 years old represents 50 percent of all cases.
Therefore, if the age bracket 50 to 59 is not covered by the extended lockdown, so, too, should be the 60 to 69 age bracket,” he said.
He also said that the 70 to 79 bracket only make up 14 percent of the cases.
“What then is the basis of the DOH rule that 19-year-olds and below, [and] 60-year-olds and above must suffer [during] the extended lockdown period? It appears to have no real basis and therefore arbitrary,” Pineda added.
Rep. Ron Salo of Kabayan party-list, chairman of the House of Representatives Electoral Tribunal, believed that the regulation was “inhumane at worst or ill-thought of at the least.”
“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,” he said.
“Protecting them from COVID-19 does not justify complete disregard of their civil liberties as well as their right to gainful employment and practice of their profession,” he added.
Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr. also slammed the ban, taking to Twitter to express his frustration about senior citizens barred from going out.
“Go ahead, house arrest seniors with disposal incomes — and let’s see how far the economy goes — one a half and flat on its face—with just the young unemployed running around malls taking selfies without a f*^king cent in their pockets,” he said in a tweet.