By Hannah Torregoza
Senator Juan Edgardo “Sonny” Angara on Tuesday reminded authorities that the movement of senior citizens is allowed for essential goods and services under the general community quarantine (GCQ).
Angara issued the reminder after receiving reports of senior citizens facing difficulty in their movement under the GCQ.
“The guidelines for areas under GCQ are very clear. Senior citizens and persons below 21 years of age, while required to continue staying inside their homes, are allowed to go out to buy essential goods like food and medicine and to obtain essential services,” Angara said in a statement.
Angara noted that the issues faced by seniors who went out of their homes qualify under essential services as most of them went out to collect their pensions.
But these seniors who went out to collect their pensions needed to take public transport such as the MRT-3 and LRT lines but were prevented from boarding, due to the rules imposed by the Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF), Angara noted.
For instance, the senator said one elderly woman in Quezon City had to walk for hours because of the absence of jeepneys. But when she finally arrived at the MRT-3 station, she was reportedly turned away and was told that seniors are not allowed to travel.
“Clearly getting their pensions and important government documents are considered essential. Common sense lang ang kailangan dito (We only need common sense here),” Angara pointed out.
“Hirap na nga ang mga seniors natin na nakakulong lang sa mga tahanan nila ng halos tatlong buwan tapos sa bihirang panahon na kailangan nilang lumabas ay pahihirapan pa din sila (Our seniors have found it difficult to remain in their homes for more than three months, yet now they have a rare opportunity, they made it difficult for them),” the senator lamented.
For one, he said the issue of easing restrictions on movement of seniors was already brought up before and settled already considering that many of them live alone and have to buy their own food and medicine.
Angara added a significant number of seniors are also still very productive members of society, and are still working.
“Patuloy pa din dapat ang pagbibigay priority sa mga seniors as pila sa mga grocery at botika at sa pagsakay sa public transport tulad ng MRT (Let’s continue to prioritize our seniors while they are queueing in grocery and drug stores and when boarding public transport like the MRT),” he said.
“Wala naman patakaran na nagbabawal sa kanila na sumakay sa mga public transportation basta ang pakay nila ay pasok sa guidelines ng IATF. (There’s no policy that prevents them from riding public transportation as long as their goal is in the guidelines of the IATF),” Angara said.
It was Angara’s father, former Senate President Edgardo Angara who authored Republic Act 7432 or the Senior Citizens Act of 1992 and has since been referred to as the Angara Law.
The younger Angara, on the other hand, was among the authors of Republic Act 9994 or the Expanded Senior Citizen’s Act of 2010, which granted more benefits and privileges to the country’s elderly.