Philippines to implement 'no vax, no ride' policy in Metro Manila

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jan 12 2022 09:42 AM | Updated as of Jan 12 2022 08:34 PM

MANILA (UPDATE) - The Department of Transportation (DOTr) is set to implement a “no vaccination, no ride” policy for public transportation in Metro Manila, which is currently under COVID-19 Alert Level 3.

In a press statement, Transportation Secretary Arthur Tugade said he has issued a department order enforcing the “no vaccination, no ride” policy while a COVID-19 Alert Level 3 level or higher remains hoisted in the National Capital Region.

“All concerned attached agencies and sectoral offices of DOTr are directed to ensure that operators of public transportation shall allow access or issue tickets only to ‘fully vaccinated persons’ as evidenced by a physical or digital copies of an LGU (local government unit)-issued vaccine card, or any IATF-prescribed document, with a valid government issued ID with picture and address,” the DOTr department order read.

Tugade said the department order on public transportation takes effect immediately after publication in the Official Gazette or in a newspaper of general circulation, and the submission of a copy with the Office of the National Administrative Register, U.P. Law Center.

According to the DO, a person is considered fully vaccinated against COVID-19 two weeks after receiving their second dose in a 2-dose vaccination series, such as with the Pfizer or Moderna brand of vaccines, or two (2) weeks after a single-dose vaccine such as with Johnson & Johnson’s Janssen vaccine.

Exempted from the “no vaccination, no ride” policy are the following:

  •  Persons with medical conditions that prevent their full COVID-19 vaccination as shown by a duly-signed medical certificate with the name and contact details of their doctor.
  •  Persons who will buy essential goods and services, such as but not limited to food, water, medicine, medical devices, public utilities, energy, work, and medical and dental necessities, as shown by a duly issued barangay health pass or other proof to justify travel.

Under the Order, violations of the policy are considered violations of applicable general safety and health provisions under any concession or service agreements, authority or permits to operate of public transportation, and other similar instruments. 

RESTRICTION OF RIGHTS 

In a statement, the Commission on Human Rights (CHR) said they fear that the move could "restrict the exercise and enjoyment of fundamental rights" which include the procurement of necessities. 

CHR pointed out that many Filipinos rely on public transportation. 

"The reality is that ordinary Filipinos continue to rely on public transportation in attaining basic needs, such as for food, work, and accessing health services," CHR explained. 

"With the DOTr‘s 'no vaccine, no ride' policy, even those exempted under this policy may be restricted in accessing essential goods and services for having no or limited access to private vehicles. 

Instead of this policy, the commission urged government to instead address vaccine hesitancy and the low vaccination rate by addressing "common misconceptions." 

"Key to upholding the right to health is informed choice and the government has the obligation to continue to promote and communicate the benefits of vaccination, especially to vulnerable sectors, and not resort to fear or force just to achieve population protection against Covid-19."

 'WHY NOT SPECIAL BUSES FOR UNVACCINATED'

For his part, vice-presidential aspirant Walden Bello described the no vax, no ride policy as "draconian and stupid", adding that the unvaccinated should be given special buses.

"Yes, vaxx certificates should be checked, but segregation, not repression is the answer, as in the case of restaurants. Unvaccinated people should be able to ride buses and public transportation specifically designated for them, just as in restaurants," he said in a statement. 

"There is already a negative incentive here, since unvaxxed people have to wait longer for special buses, but it is not draconian and repressive. More broadly, financial incentives like a P1000 award for complete vaccination are preferable to draconian methods, which often don't work."

President Rodrigo Duterte earlier warned people who have not taken COVID-19 shots will be arrested if they disobeyed stay-at-home orders as infections hit an all-time high.

He said he was asking community leaders to look for unvaccinated people and make sure they were confined to their homes.

"If he refuses, if he goes out his house and goes around the community, he can be restrained. If he refuses, the captain is empowered now to arrest recalcitrant persons," the President said.

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The Metro Manila Council, which is composed of all the mayors of NCR, has passed a resolution urging the various local government units of Metro Manila to pass their respective ordinances on the enhanced restrictions on the movement of unvaccinated persons.