About a third of residents in Metro Manila, or four million out of its 13.4 million population, have yet to be vaccinated against COVID-19, the Department of the Interior and Local Government said on Saturday, even as police warned individuals against using fake vaccination cards to skip border controls.
“In Metro Manila, we can possibly say 30% (are still unvaccinated against COVID-19.) The herd immunity in Metro Manila is high. It’s about more than 70%,” DILG Undersecretary for Barangay Affairs Martin Diño said in an interview on Dobol B TV, when asked how many in the region are not yet inoculated.
“You can see that. This is the reason why, despite the high transmission of the coronavirus in Metro Manila, those who get sick get it mild. Instead of having oxygen difficulty, or being in an intensive care unit or hospital, people are lining up at drugstores for paracetamol,” Dino added.
Meanwhile, Philippine National Police Chief General Dionardo Carlos warned violators would face stiff penalties, including imprisonment following reports of individuals presenting fake vaccination cards at checkpoints.
“Don’t ever attempt to falsify the vaccination card or else you’ll face raps. Remember, this is an offense under the Republic Act 11332 or the Mandatory Reporting of Notifiable Diseases Law,” Carlos said.
“If you are caught falsifying, tampering, or using a fake vaccination card, you will be slapped with penalties including a P20,000 to P50,000 fine or imprisonment of one to six months, or both,” he added.
Commuters who are unvaccinated against COVID-19 will only get a warning on the first week of the “no vaccination, no ride” policy, the PNP-Highway Patrol Group (PNP-HPG) in the National Capital Region said on Saturday.
“They will be given a warning within one week… But they will not be allowed to ride [public transportation]. They will be asked to turn back or go home,” PNP-HPG NCR chief Police Lieutenant Colonel Joel Mendoza said in an interview on Dobol B TV.
Mendoza said unvaccinated passengers will not be given citation tickets or be fined yet for the first week.
The Philippines has administered 117,337,626 doses of coronavirus vaccines nationwide, with 54,423,286 Filipinos already with complete doses, vaccine czar Secretary Carlito Galvez reported Friday.
The National Task Force (NTF) Against COVID-19 also marked another milestone as it hit the 70-percent target for population protection against the virus despite grappling with challenges such as calamities, sudden increase of COVID-19 cases, and the emergence of the Omicron coronavirus variant.
The latest data from National Vaccination Operations Center also showed that 4,403,780 out of the total fully vaccinated individuals have received booster shots or additional doses.
The government will ramp up its goal to 90 million by the first half of the year.
But not all barangays in the National Capital Region have submitted their list of residents who have not yet been vaccinated against COVID-19, Diño said.
“Some barangays have already submitted their lists, especially the small ones, but there are also big ones in Quezon City such as Commonwealth [that have submitted]. The deadline is until they finish it, but for the big barangays, maybe until the end of this month,” the DILG official said.
The DILG has ordered barangay governments to submit a list of unvaccinated residents as part of the implementation of restricting the mobility of people who have yet to be vaccinated against COVID-19.
President Rodrigo Duterte last week ordered barangay officials to direct persons yet to be vaccinated against COVID-19 to stay at home amid the steep spike in cases believed driven by the Omicron variant.
Diño on Saturday also said the list of unvaccinated individuals will help the government in determining how many more vaccines are needed.
“One of the reasons we are getting the data is for us to know how many more vaccines need to be allotted by the government,” he said.
The Commission on Human Rights on Wednesday meanwhile reminded barangay officials that submitting a list of unvaccinated residents must not result in violation of the residents’ right to privacy.
Diño also said those on the list are being asked to get vaccinated against COVID-19.
“We are just appealing to them to get vaccinated and helping them get scheduled for vaccination,” he said.
Cotabato City Mayor Cynthia Guiani earlier shared on her Facebook page photos of two confiscated fake vaccination cards presented at border checkpoints by two individuals.
Authorities became doubtful after observing that the first and second doses only had a 10-day gap.
The PNP has access to an electronic verification system to check if an individual was already vaccinated through the database of the respective local government units or the Department of Health (DOH).
“Since more LGUs are now under stricter restrictions, chief executives may opt to implement the ‘no vaccination, no entry’ policy in establishments or entry points, including checkpoints,” Carlos said.
The Department of Transportation (DOTr) has issued a “no vaccination, no ride/entry” in public transport policy in the National Capital Region (NCR) while the area is under Alert Level 3 or higher. This will be fully implemented starting on Monday, January 17.
A full vaccination status can be proven by either physical or digital copies of local government unit-issued vaccine card, Department of Health-issued vaccine certification, or any Inter-Agency Task Force-prescribed document with valid government-issued ID with picture and address.