Quezon City village backtracks on issuing ‘women-only’ quarantine passes after outcry

<i>Photo: Barangay Matandang Balara – Action Forward / FB</i>
Photo: Barangay Matandang Balara – Action Forward / FB

The village of Old Balara in Quezon City has yesterday issued another directive allowing fathers, members of the LGBTQ+ community, and solo parents to obtain quarantine passes, shortly after drawing flak from announcing that only women will be given the document.

An initial order signed by village chairman Allan Franza on Monday noted that “only the light of the household” — a Filipino idiom referring to mothers — will be allowed to secure quarantine passes anew as the city reverted to the modified enhanced community quarantine (MECQ).

The pass allows residents to procure food from wet markets and groceries for their households, and many residents complained that the directive is discriminatory. The order was retracted yesterday afternoon, and residents are now allowed a maximum of two quarantine passes per household, including one for women.

Read: 2020 Gets Weirder: Ostrich runs loose in Quezon City

Village official (kagawad) Benjie Reyes told Coconuts Manila in a call today that the initial directive was misunderstood, and was subject to exemptions.

“Of course, the exemption to the women-only rule is if the females in the household are pregnant, or are seniors, and at risk. There are always exemptions and these are on a case to case basis. But the village chairman has issued a new order that now allows men and LGBT people to secure a pass, not just women and mothers anymore,” Reyes said.

He added that a possible reason for the women’s only passes could be attributed to a large number of male violators in Old Balara, who have previously used passes for non-essential runs.

“Majority of the violators are male. In the past MECQ, Task Force Disiplina (“Discipline”) caught violators using passes to go to cockfights and other infractions. Of course, this does not apply to all men, but there are hardly any women violators, so that maybe one reason,” Reyes explained.

In another call, Lito Reyes, head of the village Communications and Technical Department told Coconuts Manila that most male violators have also been caught drinking around the neighborhood.

“In the previous MECQ run, most men have used passes so they could drink with their buddies outside their homes. Old Balara largely consists of indigent communities. The majority of residents come from downline areas, there are more lower-income residents compared to middle or upper class, that’s why they turn to those activities for diversion,” Reyes said.

Old Balara residents are encouraged to secure new passes through their purok (district) leaders. However, officials said previously issued quarantine passes are still valid to use for the duration of the two-week MECQ. The stricter quarantine is expected to last until Aug. 18.

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