DOTr: 'No vax, no ride’ policy made to protect all

DOTr: 'No vax, no ride’ policy made to protect all

MANILA: In a press statement, the Department of Transportation (DOTr) explained that the “no vaccination, no ride” policy is intended to protect everyone, whether vaccinated or unvaccinated, as well as the country’s healthcare system and the overworked medical frontliners amid the rise of COVID-19 cases.

KEY TAKEAWAYS

  • Does the order violate rights of the unvaccinated as provided for in law?

    According to the DOTr, the policy does not contradict RA 11525, which states that vaccination cards shall not be deemed mandatory for educational, employment, or other government transactions. The agency emphasized that the prohibition does not include public transportation.
  • Who are exempted from the order?

    Exempted are persons with medical conditions that prevent them from receiving full COVID-19 vaccination as evidenced by a duly signed medical certificate indicating their doctor’s name and contact information, as well as those who will buy essential goods and services as shown by a duly issued barangay health pass or other proof to justify travel, are exempted from the “no vaccination, no ride” policy.
  • The agency emphasized that the policy is for the common good. It also expressed its apology for the inconvenience that it has caused the commuters. The DOTr also noted in the statement that the policy will only implemented while the region is under Alert Level 3 or higher in order to combat the rising number of COVID-19 cases, especially with the spread of the highly contagious Omicron variant.

    Severe COVID-19 infections due to non-vaccination is said lead to a high number of hospitalizations. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), “while Omicron causes less severe disease than Delta, it remains a dangerous virus, particularly for those who are unvaccinated.”

    The DOTr also fears another shutdown if the number of public transport personnel infected with the virus rises, similar to what happened last year on the MRT-3, LRT, and PNR lines. The agency guarantees that its people are doing everything they can to keep the public transport operations safe to prevent another public transport shutdown.

    The DOTr added that it also does not want businesses to close down as a result of the increased number of COVID-19 cases. The Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) said that this policy is all-encompassing as all industries and business sectors will be adversely affected if they do not act as soon as possible. This has an impact not only on the business owners, but also on those who will lose their jobs and others who rely on them.

    “On those saying that the ‘no vaccination, no ride/entry’ policy in public transport is anti-poor, draconian, or punitive, 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. We do not discriminate against the unvaccinated, but we are protecting them,” the DOTr stated. “We would also wish to ensure the public that the implementation of the said policy will be both tolerant and firm.”

    Last week, the Metro Manila Council issued a resolution on the rules for unvaccinated individuals in response to inquiries about the policy’s legal basis. Under the resolution, unvaccinated individuals are not permitted to board public transport.

    The IATF firmly supports this resolution, which was approved and signed by all Metro Manila mayors and the Metro Manila Development Authority (MMDA). In support of this resolution, the DOTR issued the Department Order.

    All LGU Ordinances in Metro Manila are also banning unvaccinated individuals from taking public transportation. The DOTr said that they are supporting these local legal directives.

    The agency also clarified that there is no prohibition on travel. Unvaccinated individuals are permitted to travel by means other than public transport. Moreover, the Department Order has exceptions. “Remember that the so-called right to ride needs to be balanced with our responsibility as transport regulator to maintain and preserve safe travel,” the DOTr added.

    The DOTr also believes that the “no vaccination, no ride/entry” policy does not contradict RA 11525, which states that vaccination cards shall not be deemed mandatory for educational, employment, or other government transactions. According to the DOTr, the prohibition does not include public transportation. The Administrative Code takes precedence, requiring the agency to provide safe public transportation services.

    The DOTr also explained that the policy complies with President Rodrigo Duterte’s directive to limit the movement of unvaccinated individuals in Metro Manila, which is currently seeing an increase in cases.

    Photo from Department of Transportation

    Also read: DOTr: ‘No vax, no ride’ policy to be implemented in NCR

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