The government will enforce a “no vaccination, no ride” policy on public transport starting Monday, Dec. 17 in Metro Manila, to limit the spread of COVID-19.
At the same time, barangays have been ordered to submit to the government a list of unvaccinated people in their localities.
These moves follow President Rodrigo Duterte’s order to limit the mobility of the unvaccinated amid a new surge in COVID-19 cases, possibly driven by the highly contagious Omicron variant of the coronavirus.
An order from the Department of Transportation (DOTr) said operators of public transportation will allow access or issue tickets only to fully vaccinated persons, who must show a physical or digital copy of a valid vaccination card and a government-issued ID with a photo and address.
A person is considered fully vaccinated against COVID-19 two weeks after receiving a second dose in a two-dose vaccination series, or two weeks after getting a single-dose 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 policy.
People buying essential goods and services are also exempted, but must show a barangay health pass as proof to justify travel.
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, the department said.
The Commission on Human Rights (CHR) questioned the policy, however.
Lawyer Jacqueline Ann de Guia, CHR spokesperson, said that while there is no direct prohibition on the right to travel, the policy effectively restricts the exercise and enjoyment of fundamental rights.
She said CHR notes that the present restrictions for the unvaccinated should be constantly reviewed to ensure that they are legal measures, necessary for the protection of public health, consistent with other recognized rights, and proportional to their aim of protecting public health. Restrictions imposed by the government must, at a minimum, be carried out in accordance with law.
“The reality is that ordinary Filipinos continue to rely on public transportation in attaining basic needs, such as for food, work, and accessing health services. With the DOTr‘s no-vaccine no-ride policy even those exempted under this policy may be restricted in accessing essential goods and services for having no or limited access to private vehicles,” she said.
Transportation Assistant Secretary Goddess Libiran, however, dismissed accusations that the policy was anti-poor.
“It’s more anti-poor and anti-life if our fellow citizens get infected because they are not vaccinated,” she said in Filipino. She added that severe COVID-19 infections of the unvaccinated put an unnecessary burden on the country’s health care system.
Some presidential aspirants—Vice President Leni Robredo, Senators Manny Pacquiao and Panfilo Lacson and labor leader Leody de Guzman—disapproved of the government’s move to curtail the mobility of unvaccinated people.
A spokesman for former senator Ferdinand Marcos Jr., on the other hand, said the move was “certainly founded on sufficient valuable data.”
Meanwhile, the Department of the Interior and Local Government said all barangays have been ordered to submit a list of unvaccinated persons in their localities. (Full story on manilastandard.net)
“To ensure that we have correct data on unvaccinated persons, Secretary (Eduardo) Año issued a memorandum circular to conduct an inventory to all barangays throughout the country to identify those who have not yet vaccinated in their barangays in line with the pronouncement of the President to restrain or restrict the movement of our unvaccinated individuals. It all starts with an inventory and then when we have an inventory, the LGU (local government units) will implement through an ordinance the restrictions on the movement of unvaccinated persons,” Interior Undersecretary Jonathan Malaya said in a television interview.
Malaya also said barangay officials have to prepare the inventory “on a monthly basis” and submit this to the DILG field office in their area.
“The second step is to closely monitor the mobility of the persons who are not yet vaccinated and to advise them to stay at home,” he said.
As village officials, Malaya said they have “the authority to implement our laws”, including the President’s directives for them to courteously request unvaccinated persons to remain home.
In an online briefing, Malaya said they also expect all 17 LGUs of Metro Manila to pass their respective ordinances on the restricted mobility of the unvaccinated in the coming days.
Only three cities—Makati, Navotas, and Pasig—have not done so, he said.
Malaya, however, said the government is exerting all efforts to encourage vaccination through localized information dissemination by influencers such as local officials and medical experts.
“We also have town hall meetings where we have an expert invited such as a doctor from Philippine Medical Association, the allied medical professions and we also do outreach activities here in the communities to convey our message to them that they need to get vaccinated,” Malaya said.
Malaya, meanwhile, said many areas outside the NCR have also started passing their respective ordinances on keeping the unvaccinated people indoors.
“I will not be surprised if the provinces will also pass similar ordinances because the League of Provinces of the Philippines has already passed under the leadership of (Marinduque) Governor Presbitero Velasco of the resolution where they are also encouraging their members, the member provinces to pass such an ordinance so when there are ordinances this will now serve as the guidelines of the barangays and the PNP in the implementation of the directive of our president to restrict the mobility of the unvaccinated,” Malaya said.