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Solon: Increase the age limit of senior citizens allowed to go out in MGCQ areas

Michelle R. Guillang



A House lawmaker appealed for the lifting of travel ban among senior citizens aged 66 to 70 years old residing in areas under modified general community quarantine (MGCQ) as the holiday season is about to kick off.

Senior Citizen party-list Rep. Rodolfo “Ompong” Ordanes said it is crucial to consider the mental health of the senior citizens who have been confined inside their homes for nine months now.

From the current age limit of 65, Ordanes on Saturday urged the Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF) to raise the Authorized Persons Outside Residence (APOR) to 70.

“The IATF must consider the mental and emotional health of seniors especially now with the December holidays. The prolonged isolation and virtual house arrest of most seniors in their homes have taken their toll,” said Ordanes.

Ordanes, however, suggested that senior citizens in MGCQ areas should not be allowed to travel to places under different community quarantines.

“Raising the APOR limit to 65 has done some good but there are tens of thousands of seniors whose health has suffered because they have hardly moved around for limited physical exercise, fresh air, and interaction with other people,” Ordanes noted.

In line with the IATF’s policy as a measure to prevent the spread of coronavirus disease (COVID-19), considering that it is life-threatening to vulnerable people like the children and elderly people, only individuals aged 21 to 59 years old were the only group permitted to leave their homes since March 2020.

Youths and senior citizens, on the other hand, were forbidden to enter any public establishments and required to stay at home.

But this was adjusted in October when the IATF has authorized individuals aged 15 to 65 years old to leave their homes in a bid to reopen the economy that was significantly affected by the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic.

Local government units, nevertheless, are entitled to impose higher age restrictions for minors depending on the number of COVID-19 cases in their areas.

Meanwhile, senior citizens living in areas under general community quarantine, Ordanes said, have to wait until the data shows lower infection rates.

As the national government pledged to prioritize senior citizens for its COVID-19 immunization program, Ordanes suggested that their vaccinations should also be held in senior citizen chapters, chapter venues of war veterans, facilities of the Philippine Veterans Bank and open air parks.

The Department of Health (DOH) and Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) are expected to facilitate the COVID-19 vaccination program in barangay health centers and barangay halls once the national government rolls out its immunization plan.

House Deputy Majority Leader Bernadette Herrera, meanwhile, urged the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) to make all infrastructure projects to be “senior citizens and persons with disabilities (PWD)-friendly.”

Herrera supported the suggestion of some senators to include a provision in the proposed 2021 General Appropriations Act that all public works from construction to repair and rehabilitation should be accessible to senior citizens and PWDs.

“While there are several laws that promote accessibility to seniors and PWD, this is seldom applied, making it difficult for this segment of society to access buildings and utilize various facilities and even public transport,” said Herrera.

Herrera, a member of the House contingent to the the bicameral conference committee on the proposed 2021 national budget bill, said she will propose to House committee on Appropriations chairman Eric Yap to ensure adequate provisions for facilities like ramps, handrails, tactile paving, toilets and paved walkways, among others will be considered in DPWH projects.

Both chambers of Congress earlier moved to let Yap and his Senate counterpart, Senate Finance Committee chairman Sonny Angara, to come up with the final version of the 2021 General Appropriations Bill.