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Amid criticisms, ‘no vax, no ride’ in Metro Manila to start Jan. 17 as DOTr says there will be exemptions

By NICK GARCIA Published Jan 14, 2022 12:37 pm

The Department of Transportation (DOTr) on Jan. 14. reiterated that Metro Manila residents with underlying medical conditions and those who need access to essential goods and services will be exempted from the "no vaccination, no ride" policy in the capital starting Jan. 17.

In a virtual press briefing, DOTr Usec. Artemio Tuazon Jr. said those who cannot receive their COVID-19 vaccines must present a medical certificate with the name and contact details of their physician.

As for those who will procure essential goods and services, Tuazon said they must present a barangay health pass or other appropriate proof to support and justify their travel. Essential goods and services include food, water, medicine, medical devices, public utilities, as well as those who are going out for work, and medical and dental necessities

"Ang kaligtasan po ng ating public transport system ang unang layunin ng polisiya na ito," Tuazon said. "Nais po namin proteksiyunan di lang ang mga mananakay, kundi pati ang ating mga driver at operator."

The agency said it will also deploy "mystery passengers," or DOTr personnel disguised as regular passengers, who will ensure that the policy is being properly implemented.

Tuazon said the policy may soon be implemented outside of Metro Manila, depending on the ordinances of other local government units, adding that the DOTr will issue a new order to cater to upcoming changes if ever.

"Hindi po absolute ang ating polisiya," he noted.

DOTr's Order 2022-01 limits land, rail, sea, and air travel from and within Metro Manila to individuals who have completed their two-dose series of the COVID-19 vaccine, if not the single-dose Johnson & Johnson Janssen, while the capital is under Alert Level 3 or higher.

Under Alert Level 3, the third highest in the five-tier system, several establishments are allowed at 30% capacity indoors for fully vaccinated adults. Outdoor settings may accept anybody at half capacity.

Several netizens and organizations have criticized the "no vaccine, no ride" policy.

The Commission on Human Rights stressed that even with the exemptions, it nonetheless restricts ordinary Filipinos who "continue to rely on public transportation in attaining basic needs," thereby restricting their exercise of fundamental rights.

Partido Manggagawa, meanwhile, called out the “anti-poor" policy, saying that "in contrast, rich people—vaccinated or not—are free to move around since they have cars to use. These unfair and biased policies disproportionately impact people in the laylayan."

Last Jan. 3, the Metro Manila Development Authority had mandated unvaccinated adults and minors to stay at home, unless it's for essential travel.

On Jan. 13, the Department of Health reported 34,021 new COVID-19 cases in yet another all-time high, surpassing Jan. 10's previous tally of 33,169 fresh daily infections in a single day since the onset of the pandemic.

That day's active case count also set another all-time high, at 237,387, which surpassed last Jan. 12's 208,164.