The world of the unvaccinated is getting smaller each day. Aside from being barred from entering malls, government buildings, or restaurants, they could not ride any public transport. This was announced by the Department of Transportation (DOTr), in a policy called “no vaccination, no ride,” which aims to help curb the transmission of COVID-19, now projected to breach 40,000 cases daily.
The DOTr justified this policy by saying that this is “meant to avoid the complete shutdown of public transport, as seen in the early months of the pandemic.” It added that such a shutdown may occur if more public transport personnel test positive for the virus.
“We are doing everything we can to maintain and keep our public transport operations safe and running. It will be a much heavier burden for commuters if we experience a repeat of public transport closures,” the DOTr said.
The DOTr also denied that the “no vax, no ride” policy is anti-poor or discriminatory after various groups and lawmakers criticized this move. “The policy requiring full vaccination against COVID-19 in public transport is not discrimination but a means to protect public health,” the agency said.
“If we do not act now, all industries and business sectors will be severely affected. Either the businesses will minimize workers, cut down on some parts of their business, retrench employees, or shut down to cut down on losses or pay off debts,” the DOTr said. “We would also wish to ensure the public that the implementation of the said policy will be both tolerant and firm.”
In a statement, the agency also revealed the policy’s legal basis, which includes the DOTr’s department order, an MMDA resolution, plus the ordinances issued by local government units in NCR restricting the mobility of the unvaccinated. “To be clear, there is no directive to prohibit travel. Unvaccinated individuals are allowed to travel by using other means aside from public transport,” the DOTr said.
The policy, the agency stressed, is also in line with the order of President Duterte to restrict the movement of the unvaccinated in the NCR due to the high number of coronavirus cases.
Exempted from the policy are individuals with medical conditions that prevent full vaccination and those who will procure essential goods and services as evidenced by a medical certificate or a barangay health pass.
A policy as polarizing as this would be met with criticisms. Albay Rep. Joey Salceda, chair of the House Ways and Means Committee, in a statement said before the government imposes a restrictive policy, it has to “guarantee that anyone who wants a vaccine can get one.”
He added that the point of vaccination is to help keep the economy open. “With 58 million Filipinos still without vaccines, restricting their mobility is nowhere near allowing the economy to operate,” Salceda said. “It would be extremely unfair if those who want to get vaccinated but have limited access to them are denied public transportation. It will affect their livelihoods.”
Salceda’s criticisms were also echoed by other groups and transport organizations. Some have said that this policy is “cumbersome” to implement, and just “hides” the more important issues, such as lack of testing, lack of assistance to drivers, and general lack of a plan to suppress this COVID surge.
Even amid all these disapproval, the DOTr seems adamant to implement this “no vax, no ride.” The agency said that as of the moment, this is the only way. “We believe that it is more anti-poor and anti-life if we will not impose interventions that will prevent loss of life due to non-vaccinations.”
Citizens may agree or not on this policy, but there is one thing where we could agree on – government must intensify all efforts to get more people vaccinated, so that a policy like this may not be necessary in the long run.
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2022-01-17 00:05:00[“editorial”,”opinions-and-editorials”,”opinions-and-editorials”] [2910546,2915636,2915442,2915448,2915454,2915637,2915456]