By Mario Casayuran
Nuts! This was how Senator Panfilo M. Lacson described a guideline of the Department of Health (DOH) barring senior citizens from going out of their homes even after the easing of coronavirus disease (COVID-19)-related quarantine measures.
The policy, coming from the DOH, had been officially adopted by the Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF) which is on top of the government’s response to the pandemic.
‘’Some DOH officials should have their heads examined first by Dr. Clarita Avila, Chief Administrative Officer, National Center for Mental Health, before coming out with stupid ideas like this latest one,’’ Lacson said.
Lacson, 71, is chairman of the Senate national defense and security committee. He was a former Philippine National Police (PNP) chief and a Philippine Military Academy (PMA) graduate.
The Employers Confederation of the Philippines (ECOP) said the DOH guideline could lead senior citizens to lose their jobs.
Senate President Pro Tempore Ralph G. Recto, 56, agreed with ECOP.
‘’Most of our political and business leaders are seniors. They should be allowed to work and be mobile,’’’ he added.
Senate Minority Leader Franklin M. Drilon agreed with the proposal for senior citizens to be allowed to go back to work, adding that he and four other senators could not go to the Senate if that guideline is to be implemented.
One of the five is Senate President Vicente C. Sotto III.
Lacson pointed out that many senior citizens are far healthier and with stronger immune system than their younger counterparts.
‘’To indiscriminately prohibit them from going out of their homes is not only arbitrary; it is downright stupid,’’ he said.
‘’Just to give credence to my argument — ang ibang male Senate staff ko nga na di hamak na mas bata kesa sa akin, hindi makasabay sa akin pag gumagamit ako ng stairs paakyat sa 6th floor office ko. Yung iba naman, laging may sipon at laging uubo-ubo, samantalang ako, laging malakas ang immune system,’’ he said. (Just to give credence to my argument, I have younger male staff who could not match my going up to my sixth floor office using the stairway at the Senate building. Others have colds and usually cough. Me? My immune system is good.)
‘’Idagdag ko pa, may staff nga ako na mukhang tatay at kuya ko,’’ he added. (If I may add, I have in my Senate staff who look like my father or brother.)
‘’The dire question is – when will DOH jump to other sweeping and irrational moves?’’ he asked.