We note the rising opposition, largely from the Senate and the House of Representatives, to the guidelines declared by the Department of Transportation as regards the “no vaccination, no ride” policy in public transportation in the National Capital Region.
The strategy appears aimed at avoiding total lockdown experienced in the early months of the COVID-19 pandemic as from mid March of 2020.
The policy is also in line with the order of President Rodrigo Duterte to restrict the movement of the unvaccinated in the NCR due to the high number of coronavirus cases.
Beginning Monday, only fully vaccinated individuals will be allowed to take public transportation in the NCR following the issuance of Department Order 2022 – 001 of the DOTr.
Exempted from the policy are individuals with medical conditions that prevent full COVID-19 vaccination and those who will procure essential goods and services as evidenced by a medical certificate or a barangay health pass.
The DOTr statement followed rising opposition to restrictions on people’s mobility in the national capital region, where nearly 13 million of PH’s 110 million population live and work, following the increasing infections daily in the national capital, breaching the 30,000 mark each day since January 1.
In a statement, the DOTr said such a shutdown might occur if more public transport personnel tested positive for COVID-19.
We believe the DOTr when it said “We are doing everything we can to maintain and keep our public transport operations safe and running. It will be a much heavy burden for commuters if we experience a repeat of public transport closures.”
Aside from affecting public transportation, the department said a surge in COVID-19 cases might also result in the shutdown of affected businesses.
Read the DOTr: “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.”
We are persuaded by the DOTr statement that the policy requiring full vaccination against COVID-19 in public transport is not discrimination but a means to protect public health, noting it as reassurance that “We would also wish to ensure the public that the implementation of the said policy will be both tolerant and firm.
”The policy’s legal basis includes the DOTr’s department order, the recent resolution by the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority, and the ordinances issued by all local government units (LGU) in the NCR that limit 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. Even the Department Order of the DOTr has exceptions,” the DOTr said.
It said the policy did not violate Republic Act 11525 which states that vaccine cards shall not be considered as an additional mandatory requirement for educational, employment, and other similar government transaction purposes.
“Access to public transportation is not among those enumerated in the prohibition. The Administrative Code prevails, which mandates DOTr to provide safe transportation services to the general public,” the DOTr said.
Let’s protect the health of everyone in the community.