The Department on Transportation (DOTr) imposed on Wednesday a “no vaccination, no ride” policy for all public transportation, but at least two presidential aspirants—former Senator Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. and Partido Reporma standard bearer Sen. Panfilo Lacson—counseled caution against such action unless government takes every step necessary to make jabs available for all qualified.
Transportation Secretary Arthur Tugade issued on Thursday the department order, which will be in effect while the NCR is still under the Covid-19 Alert Level 3 or higher.
“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.
The order will take effect 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, UP Law Center.
Bring vaccines closer to the people–Marcos
IN a news statement released through Atty. Victor Rodriguez, Marcos said, “The order of the Department of Transportation [DOTr] to enforce a ‘no vaccination, no ride/no entry’ in the National Capital Region is certainly founded on sufficient valuable data that are available in its possession.”
It added: As much as we sincerely adhere and agree to these enhanced restrictions on the movement of unvaccinated persons, we also earnestly urge the government to further expand and bring the national vaccination program against Covid-19 closer to the people, if possible, to their very doorsteps.
“Our people need to have jobs and to work for them to bring food on their table, send children to school and provide for other essential family needs but at the same time we recognize the government’s tough act of balancing the scales of health and economy,” the statement read.
Tugade’s directive is in line with President Duterte’s instruction to restrict the mobility of unvaccinated individuals in Metro Manila. Duterte’s order came after the Metro Manila Council resolved to limit the movement of unvaccinated persons in the capital region due to the spike in Covid-19 cases recently.
According to the transport chief’s department order, a person is considered fully vaccinated against Covid-19 two weeks after receiving their second dose in a two-dose vaccination series, such as with the Pfizer or Moderna brand of vaccines, or two weeks after a single-dose vaccine such as with Johnson & Johnson’s Janssen vaccine.
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, are exempted from the no vaccination, no ride policy.
Also exempted are individuals 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 public transportation, and other similar instruments.
Lacson: Are there enough vaccines?
For his part, Senator and Partido Reporma standard bearer Panfilo “Ping” Lacson asked: “Are there enough vaccine doses available even for the willing? If not, it’s unfair.”
He added in a news statement: “Indiscriminately punishing even the willing but have no choice due to government shortcomings in providing for their protection should first be taken into consideration before taking a drastic action of possibly denying those people their means of livelihood to feed their families.”
“It is a different matter altogether if vaccines are available to all. By all means, we have the right to be insulated from a higher risk of infection. At least both sides have an option,” Lacson said.
The Commission on Human Rights (CHR) is also alarmed by DOTr’s policy.
Atty. Jacqueline de Guia, CHR spokesperson, said the policy limits the rights of ordinary Filipinos, most of whom rely on public transport for going to work, buying essentials, and getting access to health care.
The CHR also urged the government to continue resolving issues of vaccine hesitancy and vaccine access, instead of imposing the draconian ban.
Image credits: Nonoy Lacza