MANILA – Children’s safety amid the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) pandemic is President Rodrigo Duterte’s top priority, Malacañang said on Tuesday after the Chief Executive rejected the move to allow minors as young as 10 years old to go out of their homes.

Duterte was forced to reject the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases’ (IATF-EID) earlier decision to allow children aged 10 to 14 to leave their residences due to the new Covid-19 variant, Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said in a virtual presser.

“Ang kaniyang pangunahing concern eh pangalagaan ang kalusugan ng ating mga kabataan. So ‘yun lang po yun. Habang hindi pa tayo masyadong maraming alam sa bagong variant, stay home muna po ang mga bata (His primary concern is to protect the youth. So that’s it. Since we know less about the new variant, children need to stay home in the meantime),” Roque said.

The IATF-EID, in its Resolution 95 approved on Jan. 21, has allowed people aged 10 to 65 to go out starting Feb. 1, so long as they are living in areas under modified general community quarantine.

The task force decided to allow children as young as 10 years old to leave their homes amid the Covid-19 pandemic following the Trade department’s recommendation to balance health and economy.

However, Duterte on Monday said children should stay indoors as the new Covid-19 variant could easily infect children.

PRRD decision ‘prevails’

Roque said the President’s decision “prevails,” making the IATF-EID’s order ineffective.

“The President ultimately decides on matters under the jurisdiction of IATF dahil extension lang po ng Presidente ang IATF. So, wala pong issue doon (because IATF is just an extension of the President. So there is no issue there). Whatever the President has decided prevails,” he said.

Children as young as five and 10 years old are among the patients who acquired the new Covid-19 variant in Bontoc, Mountain Province.

Twelve cases of B.1.1.7 SARS-CoV-2 variant or the United Kingdom (UK) variant have been recorded in Bontoc, making it the area with highest number of confirmed cases of the new variant.

Three of the 12 patients are children aged five, six, and 10.

While the country has no “enough” information about the UK variant, children must stay home, Roque said.

Roque was also confident that the public would understand Duterte’s decision.

“Sa tingin ko naman po, maiintindihan naman ng taumbayan ang desisyon ng Presidente (I think the public would understand the President’s decision) because we don’t know enough about this new variant,” he said. (PNA)