Legislators well as the Private Hospitals Association of the Philippines (PHAP) and transport groups support the Department of Transportation’s (DOTr) Department order barring unvaccinated individuals from riding public transportation in Metro Manila during the Omicron surge.
The department order, which Transportation Secretary Art Tugade signed on Jan. 11, 2022, takes effect on Jan. 17 and stays in place while Metro Manila is under Alert Level 3.
“I can understand the policy of the DOTr in order to protect the riding public,” remarked Senator Grace Poe.
“We should encourage everyone to get vaccinated unless they have a legitimate underlying health reason not to,” she noted.
On the other hand, House Committee Chairman on Transportation Rep. Sarmiento urged unvaccinated individuals to comply with the DOTr’s directive until COVID-19 cases in the NCR have dropped.
“I think that our people who are unvaccinated for whatever reason should comply for now with the requirement of the DoTr until the transmission becomes more manageable,” said Rep. Sarmiento.
PHAP President Dr. Jose Rene de Grano pointed out that most of the unvaccinated population are being severely hit by COVID-19 and unvaccinated individuals stay at home to avoid catching the virus.
Already, 85 percent of the 20 private hospitals in NCR have reached critical occupancy level, Dr. de Grano warned.
Furthermore, these private hospitals are understaffed with 5 to 10 percent of its healthcare workers under quarantine.
During its meeting with the LTFRB on the new policy on Jan. 12, 2022, NCR and provincial bus operators, plying the Metro Manila route committed to comply with the DOTr order.
The Liga ng mga Transportasyon at mga Operator sa Pilipinas (LTOP), a union of jeepney, UV Express and tricycle operators in the NCR, supported the ‘no vaccine, no ride’ policy.
For his part, Parañaque Integrated Terminal Exchange (PITX) Operations Manager Jason Salvador promised the PITX will do their part in ensuring the safety of passengers at the terminal, and will coordinate with the DOTr and LTFRB in enforcing the order.
In the aviation sector, flag carrier Philippine Airlines (PAL) and AirAsia Philippines promised to abide by the DOTr order.
“We laud the DOTr’s initiative to help the Filipino public embark on essential travels during the current crisis,” PAL President and COO Gilbert Sta. Ana stated.
“We assure the public that PAL will do our part to uphold the strictest safety standards and health protocols in our continuing operation of our domestic and international flight network,” he added.
“From the onset of the pandemic, AirAsia has always been working closely with the IATF, DOTr and its attached agencies along with medical experts in the implementation of multi-layered approaches to safety in the aviation sector,” saysRicky Isla, AirAsia Philippines CEO.
Beginning 17 January 2022, the low-cost airline will continue to fly fully vaccinated guests from its Manila hub, compliant with the latest travel guidelines set by the respective Local Government Units (LGUs) of their destination.
“AirAsia Philippines considers this initiative from the DOTr as an effective tool to encourage every Filipino to take the shot, and get an added layer of protection against any emerging COVID-19 variant,” Isla maintained.
In the maritime sector, the Philippine Ports Authority (PPA) has issued a memorandum limiting the entry and access of unvaccinated passengers passing through PPA ports to, from and within National Capital Region.
This covers individuals who are traveling to, from and within NCR including those who are living outside the region and work at the same, utilizing ports operated by PPA or even private ports in consonance with the “No Vaccination, No Ride Policy”.
Proofs of vaccination include any of the following and supported by a valid government-issued Identification Document (ID) with picture and address: physical or digital copies of an LGU-issued vaccine ID; Department of Health (DOH)-issued vaccine certification; and any IATF-prescribed document.