'No vax, no ride' policy will be lifted if NCR shifts to Alert Level 2, says Palace

Malacañang said that the "No Vaccine, No Ride" policy being implemented in the National Capital Region (NCR) will be lifted if and when Metro Manila gets deescalated to Alert Level 2 since the said restriction only applies to Alert Level 3 and higher.

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)

Cabinet Secretary Karlo Nograles made the statement amid calls to place NCR under Alert Level 2 due to decreasing number of coronavirus (COVID-19) cases in the region. Metro Manila's Alert Level 3 status expires on January 31.

In an interview with CNN Philippines, Nograles said that based on the ordinance, the controversial policy will no longer be implemented if and when Metro Manila shifts to a lower Alert Level classification.

"You have to go back to the ordinance. I believe the ordinances really state that the limitations or restrictions are only for Alert Level 3 and higher," he said.

"So when you say-- pag nag-deescalate ka (when you deescalate), you can no longer implement it," he added.

Metro Manila local government units (LGUs) have implemented a "No Vaccine, No Ride" policy following a spike in COVID-19 cases possibly driven by the Omicron variant.

While the said policy aims to protect the unvaccinated by limiting the use of public transportation to fully vaccinated individuals and those who will access essential goods and services, it is met with criticism as it supposedly violates human rights and has no legal basis.

Nograles explained that the restriction on public transportation has a legal basis because it is being implemented after LGUs issued ordinances regarding it.

"What the Department of Transportation (DOTr) is implementing is the ordinances passed by the NCR cities. So ang legal basis niya (So the legal basis) are the ordinances themselves," he said.

He also cited Justice Secretary Menardo Guevara who stated that "the State has the power to regulate the movement of the unvaccinated persons in the interest of public health and public safety for the benefit not only of the vaccinated but also of the unvaccinated."

The acting Palace spokesman reiterated that the "No Vaccine, No Ride" policy is hinged on protecting the unvaccinated. He explained that 85 percent of those hospitalized are unvaccinated and more than 90 percent of them are severe and critical cases.

"So it's really for the protection of the unvaccinated," he said.

On Wednesday, Nograles said Metro Manila's risk classification level will be announced before February 1.