The Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) today clarified that senior citizens, while strongly encouraged to stay home during the global pandemic, may go out of their residences and enter commercial establishments if their purpose is to access essential goods and services.
DILG Undersecretary and Spokesperson Jonathan Malaya said that under the provisions of the IATF-MEID Omnibus Guidelines, it is clear that senior citizens may go out of their residences and enter commercial establishments for purposes of obtaining essential goods and services and for work in permitted industries including those in the informal setting in all areas under the community quarantine.
The DILG recently issued DILG Memorandum Circular (MC) No. 2020-110 dated August 16 and signed by Secretary Eduardo M. Año otherwise known as the “Rule of Mobility of Older Persons in Quarantine Situations as Prescribed by the IATF-MEID” which clarifies that “All LGUs, down to the barangay level, implementing modified enhanced community quarantine (MECQ), general community quarantine (GCQ), and modified GCQ pursuant to the IATF-EID Omnibus Guidelines shall not implement 24/7 lockdown on older persons in their homes.”
“It is clear that senior citizens may go out of their residences provided that their purpose is to access essential services or go to work in permitted industries. Thus, they may be exempted from the 8 pm-5 am curfew in Metro Manila if they are returning home from work or if they left home to buy medicine. They would just need to show proof of their purpose to our law enforcers,” said Malaya.
He clarified that while the movement of senior citizens needs to be restricted because they are most vulnerable to the disease, under IATF guidelines they cannot be restricted from accessing essential services. “That’s the reason why community cannot be considered a lockdown,” he said.
The DILG directed the Philippine National Police (PNP) and all local government units (LGUs) to ensure that the allowable movement of older persons, as stated in the IATF-EID Omnibus Guidelines, is respected and properly implemented by all government personnel, especially law enforcers such as police officers and barangay tanods.
“We place great importance in ensuring the safety of our senior citizens, but this does not mean that they should be under a 24/7 lockdown. Hindi po pinagbabawal 100% ang paglabas ng mga nakakatanda basta’t nasusunod ang nakasaad sa Omnibus Guidelines ng IATF tulad ng nakadiin doon na maaaring lumabas para sa pagbili ng mga essential goods o kaya para sa essential services, gaya ng serbisyong medikal o emergencies,” said Malaya.
In the same Memorandum, the DILG also directed the police and barangay tanods to respect the freedom of interzonal and intrazonal movement of older persons pursuant to the IATF-EID Omnibus Guidelines. In areas under ECQ and MECQ, they shall allow older persons to cross borders for medical or humanitarian purposes. Provided, that humanitarian purposes shall include the obtaining of essential goods and services that are not available in their local area.
Proactive Office for Senior Citizens Affairs
Malaya said that in interzonal and intrazonal movement of older persons, the police and tanods must honor the senior citizen identification cards issued by the Office for Senior Citizens Affairs (OSCA) as guaranteed by Republic Act No. 9994 or the Expanded Senior Citizens Act of 2010.
The OSCA, he said, shall be an integral part in supporting their respective LGUs to respect and protect the rights of older persons.
“It will be beneficial to further protect the rights of our senior citizens if we have the OSCA involved in this matter. While it is imperative to have coordination with their LGUs, establishing the OSCA as one of the referral and coordination mechanism of the LGU for these affairs will ensure concerns of this sector will be effectively addressed,” said Malaya.
He said that the DILG MC No. 2020-110 further enjoins the OSCA to set up help desks and a telephone or cellphone hotline to assist older persons in filing complaints or charges against any individual, establishment, business entity, institution, or agency refusing to comply with the guidelines set in the said MC.
The OSCA is enjoined to conduct proactive monitoring of commercial establishments permitted to operate by the IATF-EID with respect to their compliance with the guidelines set in this Memorandum Circular.
Malaya said that the DILG encourages LGUs to ensure that the OSCA is represented in all meetings and activities of the Logistics and Resources Support Team (LRST) and the Local COVID-19 Task Force.