The Department of Transportation (DOTr) on Thursday stood firm on its order prohibiting the unvaccinated from riding public transportation in the National Capital Region while the area is under Alert Level 3 or higher.
“On questions regarding the Legal Basis of the policy, please note that the Metro Manila Council (MMC) already issued a Resolution last week on the guidelines for unvaccinated individuals,” the DOTr said.
“The Resolution prohibits unvaccinated individuals from boarding public transport,” it added.
In its Resolution No. 22-01, series of 2022, the Metro Manila Council said that unvaccinated individuals in the NCR are prohibited from domestic travel via public transportation by land, sea, and air.”
Metro Manila mayors exempted those who are procuring essential goods and services such as, “but not limited to, food, water, medicine, medical devices, public utilities, and energy, work, and medical and dental necessities subject to the production of proof to support and justify such travel.”
“This Resolution was approved and signed by ALL Metro Manila Mayors and the Metro Manila Development Authority (MMDA) and is strongly supported by the IATF,” the DOTr said.
“Our Department Order was issued in support of that Resolution,” it said.
On January 11, 2022, Transportation Secretary Arthur Tugade issued Department Order No. 2022-001, which allows public transportation access only to fully vaccinated individuals.
Vaccination status can be proven by either physical or digital copies of local government unit-issued vaccine card, Department of Health-issued vaccine certification, or any Inter-Agency Task Force-prescribed document with valid government-issued ID with picture and address.
In issuing the order, the DOTr noted that all local government unit ordinances in Metro Manila prohibit the unvaccinated from using public transportation.
“We are supporting those local legal directives,” the Transportation department said.
“To be clear, there is NO directive to prohibit travel. Unvaccinated individuals are allowed to travel by using other means aside from public transport,” it said.
Labor leader and presidential aspirant Leody de Guzman slammed the DOTr’s “no vaccination, no ride” in public transport policy as having no legal basis and violating the basic rights of the people.
The DOTr said that the "no vaccination, no ride/entry" policy does not violate Republic Act 11525, which states that vaccine cards shall not be considered as additional mandatory requirements for educational, employment, and other similar government transaction purposes.
“Access to public transportation is not among those enumerated in the prohibition. The Administrative Code prevails, which mandates DOTr to provide safe transportation services to the general public,” it said.
“The policy is also in line with the order of President Rodrigo Roa Duterte to restrict the movement of people who are unvaccinated against COVID-19 in Metro Manila, which is now experiencing an uptick in cases,” it added.
The Transportation department reiterated that the policy was made “to protect all — whether vaccinated or unvaccinated individuals – to safeguard those that are most at risk, our healthcare system, and our exhausted medical workers amid the recent surge of COVID-19 cases recorded in the country.”
“The policy is for the benefit of the majority and the common good. Hence, we apologize for any inconvenience this may cause the riding public. It is important to note that the policy only takes effect while Alert Level 3 (or higher) is implemented to stem the surging cases of COVID-19, particularly with the spread of the highly infectious Omicron variant,” it said.
Also, the DOTr said that it is preventing a repeat of the public transportation shutdown like what happened last year in the MRT3, LRT lines, and PNR as most front-facing passengers were infected with the virus.
“We also do not want businesses to shut down due to the surge in COVID-19 cases,” it said.
“On those saying that the ‘no vaccination, no ride/entry’ policy in public transport is anti-poor, draconian or punitive, we believe that it is more anti-poor and anti-life if we will not impose interventions that will prevent loss of life due to non-vaccinations,” it added.
The agency said it does not discriminate against the unvaccinated as the policy only aims to protect them.
“We would also wish to ensure the public that the implementation of the said policy will be both tolerant and firm,” the DOTr said. —LBG, GMA News