Roque defends prevailing restriction on movement of seniors amid pandemic

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, September 29) — The Inter-Agency Task Force is standing by the current stay-at-home order for senior citizens amid the pandemic, its spokesperson Harry Roque said on Tuesday.

Roque made the statement after being asked about a petition filed with the Supreme Court asking it to stop the IATF from restricting the movement of seniors amid community quarantine.

In his 45-page petition, retired government official Eugenio Insigne argued this has led to the "curtailment" of their human rights, adding such rule "deprived" them of their right to due process without consultation.

"Senior citizens should not be impeded by excessively cautious measures allegedly to protect them," said Insigne.

With this, the 68-year old petitioner asked the high court to issue a temporary restraining order and/or writ of preliminary injunction enjoining the Office of the President and/or the IATF from executing and/or implementing or giving effect in any manner to orders and resolutions he had questioned.

Insigne likewise asked the Supreme Court to declare invalid the orders or resolutions in question for having violated the Constitution and other pertinent laws after giving the petition due course.

"The IATF cannot be bothered by this suit, karapatan niya yan (it's his right)," said Roque. "Pero naninindigan po ang IATF na yung prohibition po sa galaw ng mga seniors is born by science and medicine."

[Translation: But the IATF maintains that the prohibition on movement of seniors is born by science and medicine.]

The official added that in this scenario, the State exercises police power with the goal of preserving the health of senior citizens.

Insigne had also argued in his petition that police power can "no longer be invoked to justify the quarantine," noting the absence of evidence it is working.

Roque addressed him directly as well during the briefing, saying the restriction on the movement of the elderly is for their own benefit and protects them from acquiring the disease.

Health officials have been encouraging senior citizens to stay at home, citing the high COVID-19 fatality rate among them.

The omnibus guidelines of the implementation of community quarantine also imposes strict stay-at-home orders for people below 21 years old as well as pregnant women and individuals with comorbidities.