No vax, no ride: ‘Mystery passengers’ to help check
Jeepney drivers, beware!
Someone “mysterious” may soon be lurking in your ride and take you to task for transporting unvaccinated passengers.
Beginning Monday, the Department of Transportation (DOTr) will deploy traffic enforcers to check on public utility vehicles (PUVs) that do not comply with the department’s “no vaccination, no ride” rule.
These enforcers will pose as regular passengers in jeepneys, buses and UV Express vans—or as “mystery passengers,” in the words of Transportation Assistant Secretary for road transport and infrastructure Mark Steven Pastor.
“Why do we need to deploy them? To make sure that even if an enforcer is not wearing a uniform, the drivers are following and implementing our policy,” Pastor told reporters at an online briefing on Friday.
“We want to make sure and see that the policy is strictly followed on a daily basis without [the drivers] knowing that there is really … a government enforcer inside the public utility vehicles,” he added.
Pastor said the mystery passengers would still pay for their rides, which will be shouldered by DOTr officials themselves.
PUV drivers and operators found violating the “no vax, no ride” rule can either be fined or have their franchises suspended or revoked, depending on the gravity of their offenses.
In an earlier statement, the department said its policy and the penalties against offenders are based on its Department Order No. 2022-001, which in turn was issued in accordance with guidelines set by the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA), Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) and Land Transportation Office (LTO).
LTFRB Chair Martin Delgra III said jeepney drivers should check the vaccination cards of incoming passengers before allowing them in their vehicles.
As for violators among PUV passengers, the DOTr said they would be penalized according to the ordinance issued by the local government where the violation was committed.
Beside the MMDA, LTO and LTFRB, the Inter-Agency Council for Traffic, the Highway Patrol Group and the traffic bureaus of the local governments will also take part in “enforcing this policy,” Pastor said.
Rail, sea, air
“We want to have a ‘whole-of-government’ approach, … which is why we tapped these agencies for help,” he said.
But there will be no need for mystery enforcers in trains, ships and planes.
According to Transportation Undersecretary for Railways Timothy John Batan, only fully vaccinated commuters will be allowed at the Light Rail Transit, Metro Rail Transit and Philippine National Railways.
Philippine Ports Authority General Manager Jay Daniel Santiago said he had instructed all seaports outside Metro Manila to require passengers to present their vaccination cards before boarding.
He said a “soft implementation” was already in effect but the main implementation of the DOTr policy will be on Monday.
The Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines said it had issued a circular advising airports and airlines that they can only accommodate fully inoculated passengers.
All these public conveyances will also require travelers to present any government-issued identification cards as further validation of their vaccination cards.
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