Groceries and shopping malls across the country have been asked to set aside senior-only shopping time amid the coronavirus pandemic.
New National Commission of Senior Citizens (NCSC) chair Franklin Quijano has appealed to retailers to dedicate 9 a.m. to 11 a.m. as a “gift” to the senior shoppers so they can get their essential goods and services. He expressed hope that the local government units would support such appeal from senior citizens.
“We hope that the first portion of the day, puwedeng ibigay sa senior citizen (will be given to senior citizens) kasi disinfected naman iyong mall sa gabi (because the malls are disinfected at night) and in the morning, if the senior citizens are allowed, then the chances of the risk of them getting any disease is really very low,” he said during the Laging Handa public briefing Wednesday.
“Maski dalawang oras lang po (Even for two hours) from 9 to 11 in the morning, when the store opens and up to 11; and then the general public can come in afterwards, that is really is so much gift that you can give the senior citizens,” he added.
Under existing community quarantine rules, the government prohibits senior citizens and those under 21 years old from leaving their homes except for essential work and other activities such as market runs to avoid the risk of acquiring coronavirus infection. Authorities have repeatedly warned that senior citizens and those with existing health conditions are vulnerable to the coronavirus illness.
Quijano however said many senior citizens have complained about being prohibited entry to some malls and grocery stores so “sometimes they cannot be able to get their basic necessities.”
Quijano, who was recently appointed by President Duterte to head the commission, said giving early shopping time for seniors would bring them “happy memories.”
“It’s not just that we can go around anywhere, it’s really that we have to answer the needs of the senior citizens and these are the basic needs that we would like our society to give,” he said.
“So, once again: Lumalapit na po kami sa aming takip-silim (we are in the twilight of our lives) but please favor us, it’s the morning),” he said.
In July 2019, President Duterte signed a law creating the NCSC to implement programs and services aimed at promoting the elderly’s health and well-being. The implementing rules and regulations of Republic Act (RA) No. 11350 however have not yet been crafted.
Quijano said they are “starting from scratch” in crafting the rules and regulations of the law on programs for senior citizens. He said he intends to conduct a “listening tour” across the country to get the inputs from senior citizens.
“Wala pa pong organizational structure, wala pang offices at wala pang budget (There is no organizational structure, there are no offices, and there is no budget) and yet we really believe that the opportunity given by the Duterte administration to the senior citizens will really go a long way. We really feel that iyong senior citizens are safe in our lives, where even the young will desire to become senior citizens,” he said.
Quijano also recognized the contribution of senior citizens to the country’s economic recovery.
“Ang senior citizens po has a very important role in turning around the economy,” he said. The senior citizens have a very, very important role, knowing that all these time, all these years and senior citizens po are in the forefront of building this economy.”