CHR urges DOTr to add separate train cars for seniors and pregnant women


Posted at May 08 2020 06:23 PM

Scenes at the MRT-3 on March 13, 2020, a day after President Duterte announced a resolution that places Metro Manila on "Community Quarantine" starting March 15. Train systems and other forms of mass transportation remain in operation, but implement guidelines on "social distancing". Mark Demayo, ABS-CBN News

MANILA - The Commission on Human Rights has appealed to the Department of Transportation to add separate train cars for senior citizens and pregnant women if quarantine measures due to the COVID-19 pandemic are relaxed.

CHR Commissioner Karen Gomez-Dumpit recommended added measures accorded to seniors and pregnant women who are among the most vulnerable to catch the new coronavirus.

“We also recommend the strict implementation of priority lanes to provide them relief and to lessen their waiting time. This also means lesser risk of exposure to a big crowd,” Gomez-Dumpit said.

The CHR released a statement amid reported measures to deny entry to seniors and pregnant women in Metro Rail Transit and Light Rail Transit lines if a General Community Quarantine is declared in Metro Manila.

Gomez-Dumpit, who is the CHR focal commissioner on the rights of older persons and pregnant women, also stressed that seniors and pregnant women still have to buy essential goods or go to work in permitted industries under GCQ.

“Apart from its inconsistency with the GCQ protocol allowing older people to go out for work and to obtain essential goods and services, it also potentially violates their rights to health and to work,” CHR Gomez-Dumpit said.

The CHR said that it understands that the premise of the reported ban is to protect seniors and pregnant women who are more vulnerable to COVID-19 infection.

“While we laud the reason behind it, we reiterate that it is important to discern the most appropriate response that does not disregard or overlook the particular needs of different sectors, especially the marginalized,” Dumpit said.

The policy may also result to individual acts of discrimination in other public areas and transportation such as jeepneys and buses, the CHR added.
“We believe that the strict implementation of physical distancing and hygiene protocols in the MRT and LRT are sufficient to lower the risk of infection not only for older people and pregnant women, but for everyone regardless of age and circumstance,” Gomez-Dumpit said.