Local officials have "discretion" on whether or not they would allow minors to go outside their homes for leisure activities, Malacañang said Thursday.
The interior department this week said local governments can come up with local ordinances allowing the underaged to go to malls. But mayors from Metro Manila said minors should not go out for non-essential activities.
"Discretion po ng local government units kung anong edad na palalabasin," Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said.
(The age group allowed to go out is the discretion of the local government.)
"Iyong naging desisyon po ng Metro Manila Council na pagbawalan muna ang 18 below, iyan naman po ay sang-ayon din sa discretion na ibinigay ng IATF sa mga lokal na pamahalaan," he told reporters.
(The decision of the Metro Manila Council to ban those below 18 years old is based on the discretion that the inter-agency task force on COVID-19 gave to local governments.)
Dr. Jocelyn Alonzo Eusebio, president of the Philippine Pedriatric Society, who the Metro Manila Council consulted, had said minors posed a public-health risk if they turned out to be asymptomatic carriers of the novel coronavirus.
"Maaaring hindi nga symptomatic kasi marami nang obserbasyon na hindi nga malala ang COVID-19 infections sa mga bata, pero p'wede naman silang maging carriers," Eusebio said in a TeleRadyo interview on Wednesday night.
"At kung sila ay umuwi sa bahay at mayroon silang kasamahan sa bahay na lolo at lola na immuno-compromised, na mga kamag-anak, talagang sila po ay makakakuha ng impeksyon na iyon."
(They might be asymptomatic since there are observations that COVID-19 infections among children aren't severe, but they might turn out to be carriers. And if they have relatives at home who are immuno-compromised like their grandparents, there might be transmissions.)
"Totoo namang sobrang inip na inip na po ang ating mga kabataan, dahil children are supposed to be active, going around. Kaso confined nga sila sa loob ng kanilang bahay. So understandable ang mga ganoong emotions," she said.
"[Pero] lagi nating isaisip, the benefit will outweigh the risk. 'Yan po ang laging isaisip natin, lalo na ang mga magulang."
(It's true that children are bored because they are supposed to be active, going around. But instead, they are confined inside their homes. So, those emotions are understandable. But let us always keep in mind that the benefit will outweigh the risk.)
The Philippines has logged a total of 434,357 confirmed coronavirus infections, as of Dec. 2, of which, 26,916 are active cases. The country's total recoveries and death toll stood at 399,005 and 8,436, respectively.
Strict quarantine measures that include prohibition of non-essential activities outside of the residence were imposed beginning mid-March in Metro Manila and the rest of Luzon, around a month-and-a-half since the country recorded its first COVID-19 case.
The lockdowns were later expanded to include many parts of the country to control the spread of the disease.
President Rodrigo Duterte's most recent decision placed Metro Manila, as well as Batangas province, Iloilo City, Tacloban City, Lanao del Sur, Iligan City, Davao City and Davao del Norte under general community quarantine until the end of the year.
The rest of the country, meanwhile, are under modified GCQ, except Laoag City that was placed under the stricter modified enhanced community quarantine until Dec. 11 due to a spike in cases.