Philippines

‘Protection, not restriction’: Group asks gov’t for clear guidelines for senior citizens

The group Seniors sa Panahon ng COVID says the current policy is 'open to misinterpretation and confusion'

RAIN. Senior citizens despite the rain wait for their turn in Plaza Sugbo to claim their P3,000 cash assistance from Cebu City Government on June 10, 2020. Photo by Juan Carlo de Vela

RAIN. Senior citizens despite the rain wait for their turn in Plaza Sugbo to claim their P3,000 cash assistance from Cebu City Government on June 10, 2020. Photo by Juan Carlo de Vela

MANILA, Philippines – Seniors sa Panahon ng COVID (SPC) urged the government to revisit its guidelines for senior citizens under quarantine, saying the current policy is “open to misinterpretation and confusion.”

The policy on senior citizens’ mobility in quarantine areas in the Philippines states that people who are 60 years old and above “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.”

In a Change.org petition, the SPC expressed their concern over how local government units and enforcers on the ground are often aware of the restriction but not the exemption. (READ: [OPINION] The coronavirus pandemic bares older Filipinos' vulnerability)

In their petition, they suggested a new clause in the policy to allow senior citizens to go outside, provided that they strictly comply with all public health practices prescribed by the Department of Health, their places of work, or the establishment they’re heading to. (READ: A doctor's advice for older persons in the time of coronavirus)

These safety measures include wearing face masks, protective equipment, or a combination of both to prevent transmission of COVID-19.

However, SPC said that senior citizens with immunodeficiency, comorbidities, or other health risks should remain in their residences unless allowed by their physicians. Meanwhile, those who live alone can get assistance from the barangay and purok officials or personnel of the Social Welfare and Development Office.

SPC also suggested the use of a senior citizen’s ID to serve as quarantine pass, and asked the Inter-Agency Task Force on Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-EID) to include them as stakeholders for elderly welfare and rights.

“We are with you in this fight against COVID-19. Consult us. Have us involved in the formulation of policies affecting our sector and its implementation,” SPC said in their petition.

Having gathered more than 5,800 signatures, the SPC submitted their petition in a letter dated June 5 to the Office of the President.

The group is still waiting for a response regarding their appeal. – Rappler.com

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