As several cities and provinces in the country eased their COVID-19 restrictions with kids being allowed in indoor spaces such as malls, Vice President Leni Robredo on Monday, November 8, emphasized the need for more open spaces, public parks, and bike lanes for better leisurely activities for minors.
In a media briefing, Robredo said that allowing minors in malls must be “a balancing act,” which means that the government should continue responding to the challenges during the pandemic while the COVID-19 cases in the country are decreasing.
“Kailangan kahit binaba na ‘yung alert level, kailangan ‘yung (Even if the alert level has been eased, its) operationalization nito hindi (is not the) opposite side of the spectrum,” she added.
The lockdown that placed minors in their homes for more than 18 months should also be a lesson for the government on the kind of infrastructure that it invests in.
“(This is the) emphasis of build back better. Kailangan (We need to) take into consideration ‘yung klase ng (the kind of) infrastructure at (and) public spaces na pinagkakagastusan ng pamahaalan. Nakita natin na kailangan ng (that the government is spending on. We saw the need for) open spaces and parks. Kailangan ng (We need) bike lanes,” she explained.
Robredo held a press conference on Monday to discuss her “Kalayaan sa (Freedom from) COVID-19” plan. Her running mate, Senator Kiko Pangilinan, was with her, as well as former Health secretaries Manuel Dayrit and Esperanza Cabral.
In the audience were some of Robredo’s senatoriables—former Ifugal Rep. Teddy Baguilat Jr., former Senator Antonio Trillanes IV, and labor leader Sonny Matula.
“So, ito lesson sa atin (this is the lesson for us) the past one year and eight months pagbalik ng (when we return to) normal l, take into consideration lahat ng pangangailangan. Karamihan sa pasyalan ay malls kasi kulang na kulang sa (all the needs. Almost all the places to visit are malls because we are really lacking) public open spaces,” Robredo said.
The Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF) for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases has allowed on Friday, Nov. 5, areas under Alert Level 2 to accommodate minors in both outdoor and indoor spaces.
Over the weekend, netizens took notice of the busier roads, parks, and malls because of the influx of children who, for the first time since the lockdown in March 2020, were allowed to be in public places.
Former Health Secretaries Manuel Dayrit and Esperanza Cabral, who both served in the Cabinet of ex-President Gloria Arroyo, agreed that children can be allowed outside and even inside the malls provided that their parents are responsible enough to follow health and safety protocols.
Noting that minors have been locked inside their homes for almost two years, Dayrit said that the government has to consider their emotional and social development.
“Pwede na lumabas ang mga bata pero kailangan mag-ingat. Kung patatagalin pa ‘yan alam natin mapipinsala sila (The children can go out already but they need to take care. If that’s going to be stretched out, we know that they will suffer more),” he added.
Cabral agreed with Dayrit, adding that the burden was on the parents to be responsible not to put themselves and their kids in danger.