Senatorial aspirant and former presidential spokesperson Harry Roque defended government’s ‘no vax, no ride’ policy as a “reasonable exercise of the state’s police power” to protect public health.
Running under the People’s Reform Party banner, Roque said the public should misconstrue the policy as a form of discrimination against workers as they are given the choice to get vaccinated.
He added that jabs against the COVID-19 virus are given free by government.
A lawyer, Roque was reacting to objections aired by various sectors against the policy of the Department of Transportation and Communications to bar unvaccinated individuals from riding in public utility vehicles.
DOTr Undersecretary Artemio Tuazon Jr. announced that unvaccinated Filipinos in the National Capital Region (NCR) can still ride in public transportation until February 25 only.
"There is no discrimination here because all you have to do if you want to take public transportation is to have yourself vaccinated," said Roque, who was recently adopted in the UniTeam senatorial slate headed the Bongbong Marcos-Sara Duterte tandem.
The National COVID19 vaccination dashboard showed 59,716,484 Filipinos were fully vaccinated while 6,077,315 already received their booster.
"When you talk about the exercise of police powers, there inevitably would be violations of individual rights, but those violations become justified because of a bigger societal interest, and this is the promotion of public health," Roque said.
He continued: "All those who disagree are welcome to go to court because that's precisely why we have a judicial ruling." Roque said that while vaccinated individuals would not get seriously ill when they contract the virus, they could still infect others.
"We all know how infectious the Omicron variant is. Although the vaccinated ones do not get seriously ill or hospitalized, those unvaccinated can still become critical or even die and also the possibility of infecting others," he said.