DOTr justifies 'no vax, no ride' policy

Published January 13, 2022, 3:36 PM

by Emmie V. Abadilla


The Department of Transportation (DOTr) is enforcing a “no vaccination, no ride” policy to prevent another complete shutdown of both public transport and businesses like what happened in 2021, the agency insisted.

“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,” the DOTr maintained in a statement Thursday, Jan. 13.

“If the number of public transport personnel infected with the virus goes higher, we might face another shutdown just like what happened last year in the MRT-3, LRT lines, and PNR, as most front-facing passengers were infected with the virus,” the agency warned.

“We also do not want businesses to shut down due to the surge in COVID-19 cases,” the DOTr stressed, citing the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) in its “all-encompassing campaign”.

“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.”

The “no vaccination, no ride” policy protects all— vaccinated or unvaccinated – to safeguard those most at risk amidst the recent surge of COVID-19 cases, the agency underscored.

“We apologize for any inconvenience this may cause the riding public. The policy only takes effect while Alert Level 3 (or higher) is implemented to stem the surging cases of COVID-19, particularly with the spread of the highly infectious Omicron variant.”

As for the policy being anti-poor, draconian and punitive, “We believe it is more anti-poor and anti-life if we will not impose interventions that will prevent loss of life due to non-vaccinations,” according to the DOTr.

On questions regarding the Legal Basis of the policy, the Metro Manila Council has issued a Resolution last week on the guidelines for unvaccinated individuals.

The Resolution prohibits unvaccinated individuals from boarding public transport.

This Resolution was approved and signed by all Metro Manila Mayors and the Metro Manila Development Authority (MMDA) and is strongly supported by the IATF.

The Department Order was issued in support of that Resolution.

Further, all LGU Ordinances in Metro Manila prohibit the unvaccinated from using public transportation.

However, there is no directive to prohibit travel. Unvaccinated individuals are allowed to travel by using other means aside from public transport.

Also, the DOTr’s “no vaccination, no ride/entry” policy does not violate RA 11525, which states that vaccine cards shall not be considered as 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 policy is also in line with the order of President Rodrigo Roa Duterte to restrict the movement of people who are unvaccinated against COVID-19 in Metro Manila, which is now experiencing a surge in cases.

Severe COVID-19 infections caused by non-vaccination result in an overwhelming of cases of hospitalization.

The World Health Organization (WHO) declared that “while Omicron causes less severe disease than Delta, it remains a dangerous virus, particularly for those who are unvaccinated.”