COVID-19

Who decides on kids’ mobility? Palace says LGUs, Metro mayors say IATF

Dwight de Leon
Who decides on kids’ mobility? Palace says LGUs, Metro mayors say IATF

Kids visit the SM mall in General Santos City after the city government ease COVID-19 restrictions.

SM City General Santos Facebook page

President Duterte has urged LGUs to pass ordinances limiting children's movement to avoid COVID-19 risks

It’s “status quo” in Metro Manila after mayors in the region decided to let the Philippines’ coronavirus task force have the final say on the whether to restrict the movements of minors below 12 years old.

This means that, until new guidelines are released, children are allowed to visit malls under the current community quarantine classification in the metropolis, the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) said.

“We have to defer to the wisdom of the Inter-agency Task Force (IATF) as well as the opinion of those in the medical field. We should seek balance on the physical and mental health of our minors,” MMDA Chairman Benhur Abalos explained on Friday, November 19.

“Minors below 12 years old are still allowed to visit malls, but we have passed the ball to the IATF. Let them decide. Until they have come up with a decision, it’s status quo,” he said in Filipino.

The Metro Manila Council has also signed a resolution, endorsing the matter to the IATF.

National government guidelines allow minors and senior citizens in areas under Alert Level 2 to leave their homes, although “restrictions may be imposed by the local government units (LGUs).”

Talks on whether kids should be allowed to enter malls were ignited after President Rodrigo Duterte urged LGUs on Monday, November 15, to craft ordinances that would prohibit minors below 12 years old to enter malls.

The chief executive said children at those ages had yet to receive protection from the coronavirus, as pediatric inoculations only cover minors ages 12 years old and up.

On Tuesday, November 16, acting Presidential Spokesman Karlos Nograles insisted it was up to the LGUs whether to impose measures limiting children’s mobility.

“President Duterte’s plea is for LGUs to consider passing ordinances,” he had said in Filipino. “Let them decide what’s best for their local jurisdictions and what’s best based on science.”

Commercial establishments in Metro Manila saw an uptick of visitors in November, as COVID-19 protocols further eased.

Despite the improvement in case trends, the health department has urged the public to continue abiding by minimum public health protocols. – Rappler.com

Dwight de Leon

Dwight de Leon is a multimedia reporter who covers local government units and the Commission on Elections for Rappler.