Solons back President’s decision to recall IATF ruling on age restrictions in MGCQ areas

Published January 26, 2021, 1:16 PM

by Charissa Luci-Atienza 

Lawmakers threw all-out support Tuesday to the President Duterte’s decision to recall the order of the the Inter-agency Task Force (IATF) for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases to allow children aged 10 to 14 years old to go outside their homes in areas under the modified general community quarantine (MGCQ).

Former health secretary and Iloilo First District Rep. Janette Garin. (Tara Yap/Manila Bulletin)
Former health secretary and Iloilo First District Rep. Janette Garin.
(Tara Yap/Manila Bulletin)

“The fact that the new variant is easily transmitted warrants the decision of the President not to allow 10 to 14 years old outside their homes. There are still a lot of unknowns regarding COVID19. Younger teens have been shown to be super spreaders,” Iloilo 1st District Rep. Janette Garin said in a text message.

She explained that minimum public health standards is not that easy to implement among the young.

“While we have the vaccine on the pipeline, it’s thrust is ‘zero deaths and extremely reduced hospitalization.’ Transmission can still be possible. Hence, a few more months of waiting will allow us more scientific information leading to guided decisions,” Garin said.

Capiz 2nd District Fredenil Castro, a former deputy speaker, also agreed with Garin’s observations.

“Allowing children to go out will expose their entire family to COVID-19 . What they get outside , they could bring home. Children have the tendency to forget COVID-19 and / or the minimum established safety measures to ensure the safety of everybody specially, during the time that they are preoccupied with their play/ enjoyment and they bring home what they get outside.There should be no rush to allow them outside,” he said.

In his taped public address aired on Monday evening, President Duterte said he is compelled to reverse the IATF ruling as a precautionary measure against the new COVID-19 variant from the United Kingdom.

Anakalusugan partylist Rep. Michael Defensor said Duterte made an “excellent” decision in overruling the IATF.

“The 10 to 14 years old bracket are not yet in the productive stage and there is no harm to the economy in preventing them to leave their homes. On the other hand, they can be a spreader of the variant given their active interaction in the community,” he said in a separate text message.

Quezon City 2nd District Rep. Precious Hipolito Castelo and Surigao del Norte 2nd District Rep. Robert Ace Barbers also agreed with the President’s decision.

“The UK variant type of virus is new and unpredictable. The spread can have disastrous effect on the the population. It has no conclusive study yet on the effects of it on the young. Better safe than sorry,” Castelo said.

“We should take all precautions and not be complacent,” Barbers said, noting that the new COVID-19 variant was recently found in the Cordillera Administrative Region (CAR).

Masbate 2nd District Rep. Elisa “Olga” Kho, a medical doctor, said, “I don’t like children to go out of their homes just for fun unless very essential or necessary like receiving treatments, but for play I do not think it is proper because they can play at home and with other alternatives, especially now there are mutations of the virus and the rate if infection is going up.”

Baguio lone District Rep. Mark Go also described as “appropriate” the President’s decision to address the vulnerability of the children, as identified by the Department of Health (DOH).

“Maintaining the restrictions for this age group will further support all our efforts to minimize the risks of contracting the COVID-19 virus especially the UK variant which is said to be more infectious and transmissible that may cause to multiply our current number of COVID-19 cases,” he said.