Poe supports “no vax, no ride” DOTr policy

January 14, 2022 Jun I. Legaspi 470 views

SENATOR Grace Poe, Samar Rep. Edgar Sarmiento as well as the Private Hospitals Association of the Philippines (PHAP), and various transport groups have expressed support for the Department of Transportation’s (DOTr) Department Order barring unvaccinated individuals from public transportation in Metro Manila.

The department order, signed by Transportation Secretary Art Tugade on January 11, 2022, and will take effect on Monday, January, 17,2022 follows President Rodrigo Roa Duterte’s order of restricting the movement of unvaccinated individuals in Metro Manila as the region continues to experience a surge in COVID-19 cases. The order will remain in effect while Metro Manila is under Alert Level 3 or a higher quarantine classification.

Reacting to the No Vaccination, No Ride Policy, Senator Poe said she “understands the DOTr order to protect the riding public.”

“Data have shown that those that were fully vaccinated were less likely to have severe symptoms of COVID infection. The majority of those that have died or have been hospitalized were unvaccinated. I can understand the policy of the DOTr to protect the riding public. We should encourage everyone to get vaccinated unless they have a legitimate underlying health reason not to,” Senator Poe, who chairs the Senate Committee on Public Services, explained.

On the other hand, House Committee Chairman on Transportation Rep. Sarmiento urged unvaccinated individuals to comply with the DOTr’s directive until COVID-19 cases in the NCR have dropped.

“I think that our people who are unvaccinated for whatever reason should comply for now with the requirement of the DoTr until the transmission becomes more manageable,” Rep. Sarmiento said.

For 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% to 10% of its healthcare workers under quarantine.

During its meeting with the LTFRB on the new policy yesterday 12 January 2022, NCR and provincial bus operators, plying the Metro Manila route, expressed full compliance to the policy, saying they will ensure the safety of their drivers and conductors from catching the virus.

The Liga ng mga Transportasyon at mga Operator sa Pilipinas (LTOP), a union of jeepney, UV Express and tricycle operators in the NCR, shared the same sentiment and supported the No Vaccine, No Ride policy.

“Kami po ay naka-suporta sa programa ni Secretary Tugade dahil sa tingin namin balansyado naman dahil nakausap naman po ‘yung mga iba’t-ibang lider sa Metro Manila. Kami ay sumasang-ayon [sa No Vaccine, No Ride policy] dahil balansyado naman at binigyan ng karapatan ‘yung mga may problema sa health ay binigyan sila ng exemption kung may medical certificate silang ipapakita,” LTOP President Orlando Marquez said.

“Bilang Presidente ng LTOP, tinawagan ko po ang mga kasama natin sa LTOP. Sila naman po ay nakahanda na. Ang sabi nila sa akin ay bukas at sa Sabado ay magkakaroon na sila ng meeting upang matulungan ang polisiya dahil sabi nila kung pasasakayin ang walang bakuna ay hindi sila papayag,” Marquez added.

Likewise, Pasang Masda president Obet Martin said his group supports the order to stem the virus’ community transmission. Martin explained that the directive is part of the government’s plan to inoculate unvaccinated individuals.

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 lauded Secretary Tugade’s initiative by promoting safe travel as the country grapples with the surge of the COVID-19 Omicron variant.

“We assure the public that PAL will do our part to uphold the strictest safety standards and health protocols in the continuing operation of our domestic and international flight network,” Sta. Maria added.

“We are one with the DOTr and the Philippine air transport sector in working to sustain vital air services throughout the country, facilitating the delivery of urgent goods, including life-saving vaccines, and helping our OFW and overseas Filipinos fly to their home provinces,” PAL Express President Bonifacio Sam said.

The DOTr wishes to reiterate that the policy is meant to protect, not discriminate, the public’s general welfare, especially unvaccinated individuals.