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Senators oppose ‘no vax, no ride’ policy; offer other ideas

/ 04:44 PM January 13, 2022
Senators oppose 'no vax, no ride' policy; offer other ideas

Facade of the Senate building in Pasay City. (Philippine Daily Inquirer file photo)

MANILA, Philippines — Some senators have expressed their opposition to the government’s “no vaccination, no ride” policy for public transport in Metro Manila, with one saying that such a restriction would “will only create resentment and animosity” and may further discourage the unvaccinated from getting the anti-coronavirus vaccine.

Senator Joel Villanueva said the government should prioritize educating the public about the benefits of getting inoculated against COVID-19 on top of providing incentives to those who have completed their vaccination.

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“Any policy on public transportation should primarily focus on the welfare of our commuters, a large portion of whom are workers going to and from their places of work and their homes,” he said.

“An all-out ban on unvaccinated individuals in public transportation—with little to no viable alternative options—will only create resentment and animosity, and will further discourage them to get jabbed,” he added.

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For Senator Francis Pangilinan, the government should not resort to forcing those who opt not to get vaccinated.

“May [There’s] freedom of choice. Incentivize, hindi penalize ang dapat [We should incentivize, not penalize,” he added.

The Department of Transportation (DOTr) recently issued an order that would bar unvaccinated people to ride public transport in Metro Manila, which is currently under Alert Level 3.

READ: DOTr enforces ‘no vaccine, no ride’ policy in NCR

But Senator Nancy Binay expressed doubt if the “no vaccination, no ride” policy can be implemented effectively.

“We must understand that majority still take public transportation at karamihan ng PUVs, tulad ng jeepneys, ay ‘akyat-baba’ ang sistema,” she said.

“Although we recognize that transmissions can easily spread in enclosed settings tulad sa mga (like in the) train at (and) buses, retrofitting PUVs is the more practical approach since COVID-19 is now part of our life,” she added.

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She said that while vaccination does make a difference, the DOTr should encourage proactive solutions in keeping commuters safe and provide sustainable health-compliant public transportation.

Meanwhile, Senator Grace Poe, who heads the Senate public service committee, said she understands the policy of the DOTr 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 due to COVID were unvaccinated,” Poe said.

“We should encourage everyone to get vaccinated unless they have a legitimate underlying health reason not to,” she added.

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