The Commission on Human Rights (CHR) cited the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) for respecting the mobility of older persons during the community quarantine.
The DILG issued Memorandum Circular 2020-110 dated Aug. 16 which adopted a rights-based and non-discriminatory policy on the movement of senior citizens in areas under community quarantine. The circular likewise installed protective measures for them.
Commissioner Karen S. Gomez Dumpit, Focal Commissioner on the Human Rights of Older Persons, said that the DILG was able to tackle public health and adopt a human rights-based approach with the circular, since it closely collaborated with older persons through non-government organizations such as the Coalition of Services for the Elderly, the Confederation of Older Persons Associations in the Philippines, and the Seniors sa Panahon ng COVID.
Government agencies were likewise consulted, such as the National Anti-Poverty Commission and the CHR.
The circular said that older persons are still allowed to go out of their residences, provided that they will obtain essential goods and services or engage in essential work and other permitted activities.
"It mandates all local government units (LGUs) and the Philippine National Police to respect the freedom of movement of older persons, pursuant to the IATF-EID guidelines," said Dumpit.
Frontliners are mandated to allow older persons to cross borders for medical or humanitarian purposes in areas under Enhanced Community Quarantine (ECQ) and Modified Enhanced Community Quarantine (MECQ). Meanwhile, they are allowed to cross borders for any purpose, with the exception of leisure, in areas under General Community Quarantine (GCQ) and Modified Community Quarantine (MGCQ).
The circular also allowed certain exceptions with regards to the exercise and outdoor activities of senior citizens -- provided that minimum health standards are observed. Senior citizens are allowed to engage in individual outdoor non-contact sports and other forms of exercise under MECQ, GCQ, and MGCQ.
"We emphasize that these rules do not undermine the risks for older persons of contracting COVID-19 when going outside their residences because it balances the need to protect everyone against the disease while respecting the various circumstances that different older persons are in," said Dumpit.
The DILG circular recognized that not all older persons have other people to rely on to buy their essential goods or provide financial support, so some older persons really need to go out themselves as long as they maintain physical distancing.
"We further emphasize that the responsibility to curb the transmission of COVID-19 and to protect themselves rests not just on older persons but on every person in this country regardless of age," said Dumpit.
Aside from the guidelines for older persons when going out, the circular issued provisions that mandate the Offices of Senior Citizens Affairs (OSCAs) to set up hotlines and help desks for queries and complaints of older persons, which is in line with the Expanded Senior Citizens Act of 2010.
OSCAs were encouraged to proactively monitor older persons at risk for violence and abuse and to ensure suspected or alleged incidents are reported to the Department of Justice, the Public Attorney’s Office, and the CHR.
"We reiterate that older persons, whatever circumstance they are in, have the right to live a life of dignity, free from abuse, violence, and neglect. The CHR is committed to act on reports of suspected or alleged cases of abuse, violence against, or neglect of older persons," she said.