DOTr to support provinces that will adopt 'No Vax, No Ride' policy

The Department of Transportation (DOTr) said it would support the implementation of the "No Vaccination, No Ride" policy outside Metro Manila should local government units (LGUs) decide to adopt the same scheme currently being imposed in the National Capital Region.

A “No Vaccination, No Ride” sign is seen posted on a public utility jeepney in Malate, Manila as the Department of Transportation starts enforcing the policy on January 17, 2022. (Ali Vicoy / MANILA BULLETIN)

"Kung sila po ay maglalabas ng ordinansa o ng kaukulang kautusan na magpapatupad ng ganitong polisiya, susuprtahan naman po ito ng DOTr (If the LGUs will release their own oridinance to implement this policy, the DOTr will support it)," Transportation Undersecretary Artemio Tuazon Jr. said in a Laging Handa briefing on Thursday, Jan. 27.

"Sila po ang nakaka-alam kung ano ang kondisyon sa kanilang mga localities at sila ang may karapatan na mag-exercise nitong police power under the local government code (The LGUs know the state of their localities and they have the right to exercise this police power under the local government code)," he added.

The DOTr and the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) earlier noted that the enforcement of the "No Vax, No Ride" policy in the National Capital Region (NCR) is a "valid exercise of the police power of the government."

According to the DILG, the policy is part of the State’s role of promoting public welfare as stated in the Supreme Court’s decision under the Gerochi vs. Department of Energy 2007

The DOTr, DILG, and the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) earlier decided to give unvaccinated and partially vaccinated workers a period of 30 days to continue riding public utility vehicles (PUVs) going to, from, and within the NCR.

After the 30-day window, which started Jan. 26 until Feb. 25, the policy will be "fully implemented" which means workers in industries allowed to operate under Alert Level 3, who are yet to complete their vaccines, will be barred from using public transportation.

The DOTr, DILG, and DOLE defended their decision which they said only intends to protect those unvaccinated and partially vaccinated workers from contracting COVID-19 and later developing severe infections.

However, Tuazon emphasized that exemptions stated in Department Order No. 2022–001 will remain even after the 30-day window. These include travelers who have medical conditions that prevent them from being vaccinated and those who will avail of "essential goods and services."

The DOTr official also clarified that the restriction is only valid while the capital region is under Alert Level 3 or a higher quarantine classification. Metro Manila is currently under Alert Level 3 until Jan. 31.

"Kapag bumaba na po ang alert level, masususpend na rin po ang polisiya (The policy will be suspended once the stringent alert level is lifted)," he said.

The "No Vaccination, No Ride” policy was implemented in Metro Manila since January 17 following a renewed surge in the number of COVID-19 infections in the capital region.

"We want our workers to get fully vaccinated especially now that there is no longer a shortage of COVID-19 vaccines, and there is a threat of highly transmissible variants of the virus. We are giving our workers the time to get themselves vaccinated," Tuazon added.