The Commission on Human Rights (CHR) on Tuesday, June 2, urged the Department of Transportation (DOTr) to allow senior citizens to board the MRT and LRT as the prohibition “does more harm than good.”
In a statement, CHR Commissioner Karen Gomez-Dumpit said the DoTr should consider factors as to why senior citizens need to go out of their homes, especially if they are breadwinners of their families.
“Simplistic interpretations of denial of essential services without due regard to the situations people face is discriminatory,” Dumpit, the focal Commissioner on ageing and the Human Rights of older persons, said.
The statement comes after multiple incidents of senior citizens who endured challenges while commuting were reported on Monday, June 1 – the first day of the general community quarantine (GCQ) in Metro Manila.
Under GCQ, persons aged 0 to 20 years old and those who are 60 years old and above must stay at home.
However, the exceptions were if they needed to go out for essential items or if they were required to report to work for establishments allowed under GCQ. (EXPLAINER: What happens under general community quarantine?)
Elderly persons and pregnant women are not allowed to enter MRT, LRT, and Philippine National Railways stations "due to their susceptibility to coronavirus disease (COVID-19)."
CHR reminded government agencies that while the protection of vulnerable sectors against the coronavirus is important, their welfare should also be considered.
“We urge the DOTr and the MRT management to sensitize themselves to the circumstances of the riding public and orient their frontliners on the ground,” Dumpit said, adding that the commission already dispatched a team to investigate more reports.
The DOTr is under fire for the situation that unraveled during the first day of the GCQ. Commuters were left stranded without no ride, with many forced to walk long distances to go to work and and return home.
Jodesz Gavilan is a writer and researcher for Rappler and its investigative arm, Newsbreak. She covers human rights and also hosts the weekly podcast Newsbreak: Beyond the Stories. She joined Rappler in 2014 after obtaining her journalism degree from the University of the Philippines.