Unvaccinated people who violate a ban on their use of public transport in Metro Manila will only get warnings and would not get arrested for now, the Philippine National Police said on Wednesday.
The "no vaccine, no ride" policy that took effect on Monday is still in its "warning phase," said PNP spokesman Col. Roderick Alba.
"Ibig sabihin, i-remind muna ‘no, pagsabihan muna iyong mga hindi authorized, hindi essential iyong kanilang galaw, lalo na iyong mga unvaccinated na individuals na kababayan natin, to just go back, to go home muna," he said in a televised public briefing.
(This means unauthorized persons whose movement is not essential, especially unvaccinated individuals, will be reminded to just go back, to go home.)
"No arrest will be made, except kung mayroong specific violations of law na beyond sa pagwa-warning ng ating kapulisan ay hinarass mo or sinaktan mo ‘yung nag-implement, then that’s another story," added the official.
(No arrest will be made except for specific violations of law that are beyond the warning of our policemen. If you harass or hurt those implementing the ban, then that's another story.)
Asked until when the warning phase would run, Alba said the PNP would wait for the cue of the transportation department.
"Ang instruction po sa initial implementation is to give warning para ample time probably, perhaps, iyong makapag-adjust iyong ating riding public sa ating guidelines," added the official.
(The instruction on the initial implementation is to give warning so that there is ample time, perhaps, for our riding public to adjust to our guidelines.)
President Rodrigo Duterte recently threatened to arrest people not vaccinated against COVID-19 who refused to stay at home.
Passengers will have to show proof of vaccination before boarding public buses, jeepneys, trains, boats or planes in Metro Manila where infections are soaring, causing widespread disruption for businesses and straining hospitals.
Exceptions will be made for unvaccinated people who are essential workers or have official permission to travel to buy food, seek medical treatment or get jabbed.
The 'no vax, no ride' policy is implemented while Metro Manila is under COVID-19 Alert Level 3 or above, according to the Department of Transportation.
Exempted from it 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.
Only around half the Philippines' 109 million population are fully vaccinated, though the rate in the capital is much higher.
—With a report from Agence France-Presse