MANILA -- Unvaccinated and partially vaccinated laborers in the National Capital Region (NCR) will only be given 30 days from January 26 to continue riding public transportation in going around the metro, according to a joint statement released by the labor, transportation, and interior and local government departments Wednesday.
They will no longer be allowed to ride public utility vehicles if they are still not fully vaccinated at the end of the 30-day period, the statement said.
Transportation Undersecretary Artemio Tuazon Jr. said this move supports the government’s ongoing efforts to ramp up COVID-19 vaccination amid the threat of the highly-transmissible omicron variant.
“This joint decision is also meant to support the vaccination drive of the entire government. We want our workers to get fully vaccinated especially now that there is no longer a shortage of COVID-19 vaccines, and there is a threat of highly transmissible variants of the virus."
"We are giving our workers the time to get themselves vaccinated,” he said.
The DOTr official, however, clarified that the move is not discriminatory.
“As jointly decided by the DOLE, DILG and DOTr, workers who will remain unvaccinated 30 days after the announcement are not being barred from their workplaces."
"They are simply not allowed to use public transportation, but can still use other means such as active transport, private vehicles, or company shuttle services,” said Tuazon.
Transport rights groups and human rights advocates have previously expressed their position to the "no vax, no ride" policy, saying that a more organized and more systemic approach is needed to stop the spread of the virus.
The DOTr has said its policy is meant to protect the unvaccinated from contracting the respiratory disease, and prevent the economy from shutting down.
"If we do not act now, all industries and business sectors will be severely affected," it said.
Some lawmakers have also previously called for a review of the "no vaccine, no ride" policy, saying it only hurts Filipinos whose livelihoods depend on transportation.