Even unvaccinated senior citizens should be allowed to go out for basic needs – CHR

Published June 12, 2021, 5:04 PM

by Czarina Nicole Ong Ki

Commission on Human Rights

While fully vaccinated senior citizens are now allowed to enjoy looser quarantine restrictions, the Commission on Human Rights (CHR) said that all seniors, even those who have not been vaccinated, should still be allowed to access basic goods and services.

CHR Commissioner Karen Gomez Dumpit said that “allowing older persons to freely go outside their homes, subject to minimum health protocols, indicates respect by the State to the autonomy of older persons and their right to decide for their own without undermining the risks of COVID-19 (coronavirus disease).”

However, she said, only five percent of the country’s population of older persons have so far been fully vaccinated, “not their choice but because of the unavailability of vaccines in their respective local governments.”

She pointed out that based on the Omnibus Guidelines on the implementation of community quarantine issued by the Inter-Agency Task Force on Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF – EID) as of May 6, older persons, regardless of vaccination status, may go outside their homes if the purpose is to obtain essential goods and services, or for work in essential industries and offices or such other permitted activities.

She added that the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) even affirmed the guidelines in its Memorandum Circular 2020-110 and tasked all local government units to respect the freedom of movement of older persons.

Sadly, Commissioner Dumpit said the CHR has been receiving reports that some seniors are denied their right to freedom of movement and access to essential services, such as transportation and entry to grocery stores.

Dumpit also said that many senior citizens have complained that they were subjected to unnecessary and unjustified situations, sometimes even punitive measures.

“We remind law enforcement authorities and local government units that, with the new policy, it does not mean that unvaccinated or partially vaccinated older persons do not enjoy similar freedom,” she stressed.

“We urge local chief executives to ensure that this does not happen again and to fully respect the right of older persons to be treated with dignity amid these challenging times,” she added.