PNP beefs up police presence as 'no vax, no ride' policy implementation starts Jan. 17

Published January 16, 2022, 1:30 PM

by Aaron Recuenco 

Policemen will be deployed in bus stops and terminals of passenger utility vehicles and will also be conducting random check especially at border control points as the national government starts on Monday, Jan. 17, the implementation of the “no vaccination, no ride” policy in Metro Manila and other areas under Alert Level 3 status for the coronavirus disease (COVID-19).

Gen. Dionardo Carlos, chief of the Philippine National Police (PNP), said the involvement of the police in the implementation of the policy issued by the Department of Transportation (DOTr) starts in the checking of vaccination cards at border control points for people entering Metro Manila and other areas that are covered by the rule on restricting the movement of the unvaccinated individuals.

photo: Ali Vicoy

“We will assist, we will follow the order and we will help in its implementation. We will have random checkpoints and random check on people for their vaccination cards,” said Carlos.

PNP spokesperson Police Col. Rhoderick Augustus Alba said the checking of vaccination cards will be part of the observance of the minimum public health safety protocol that have been implemented by the PNP.

“We will deploy policemen in all places of convergence as part of the PNP assistance that was ordered by our Chief PNP,” said Alba.

On Wednesday, Jan. 12, DOTr Sec. Art Tugade issued a Department Order directing the transport sector to implement the no vaccination, no ride policy, saying the move was part of the government’s decision to protect unvaccinated individuals who are susceptible to the adverse effects of COVID infection. He cited the data from the Department of Health which states that 85 percent of COVID patients at the hospitals’ Intensive Care Units (ICU) are unvaccinated individuals.

The order covers air, sea and land travel in areas under Alert Level 3, especially Metro Manila.

photo: Ali Vicoy

A fe days later, the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) issued guidelines which states that bus companies must only give tickets to passengers who could present vaccination cards as proof that they are fully-vaccinated.

A person is considered fully-vaccinated two weeks after his or her second dose.

But the LTFRB guidelines stated that only unvaccinated individuals with medical condition and those who would be availing important goods and services like medical-related concerns and those going to vaccination sites are exempted from the policy.

Fully supported

Despite criticisms from some sectors, the DOTR said the no “vax, no ride” policy are fully-supported by medical and transport groups, among them are the Private Hospitals Association of the Philippines (PHAP), Liga ng mga Transportasyon at mga Operator sa Pilipinas (LTOP), a union of jeepney, UV Express and tricycle operators in the NCR; and Pasang Masda.

photo: Ali Vicoy

PHAP President Dr. Jose Rene de Grano most of the unvaccinated population are severely hit by COVID-19 due to lack of protection and suggested that unvaccinated individuals stay at home to avoid catching the virus.

Dr. de Grano also pointed out that 85% of the 20 private hospitals in NCR have reached critical occupancy level, adding that these private hospitals are understaffed with 5 percent to 10 percent of its healthcare workers under quarantine.

For his part, Parañaque Integrated Terminal Exchange (PITX) Operations Manager Jason Salvador said 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) expressed its “strong support” and on the policy as part of promoting safe travel as the country grapples with the surge of the COVID-19 Omicron variant.

“We laud the DOTr’s initiative to help the Filipino public embark on essential travels during the current crisis. 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,” said PAL President Gilbert Sta. Maria.

The “no vax, no ride” policy will remain in effect while Metro Manila is under Alert Level 3 or a higher quarantine classification.

Warning

The Chief PNP, on the other hand, warned the public against the use of fake vaccination cards.

“If caught, you would be held responsible and one of them is that cases will be filed against you,” said Carlos.

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