‘Discriminatory, without legal basis:’ Escudero urges DOTr to recall ‘no vaxx, no ride’ policy
MANILA, Philippines — Saying it was “discriminatory and without legal basis,” senatorial candidate and incumbent Sorsogon Gov. Francis “Chiz” Escudero called on the Department of Transportation to immediately recall its controversial “no vaccination, no ride” policy.
“Wala namang batas na tinatayuan ang ‘no vaxx, no ride’ policy ng DOTr. Dapat agad na ito ay bawiin dahil hadlang ito sa malayang paggalaw ng publiko, bakunado man o hindi,” Escudero, who is also a lawyer, said in a statement on Tuesday.
(This “no vaxx, no ride” policy of DOTr has no legal standing. It should be recalled immediately as it curtails the freedom of movement of the public, vaccinated or not.)
“Ang pampublikong sasakyan ay para sa lahat, para sa mga papasok sa trabaho, para sa mga may kailangang pumunta sa hospital, para sa mga may bibilhin sa botika o grocery,” he added.
(Public transportation is for everyone, for those who need to go to work, to a hospital, to buy in a pharmacy or grocery.)
In a bid to curb the spread of the highly transmissible Omicron variant, the DOTr recently issued a directive prohibiting unvaccinated individuals from taking the public buses, taxis, jeepneys, boats, and commercial planes to, from, and within Metro Manila.
Escudero said the policy was “simply wrong and discriminatory.”
“Public transport is a necessity and the vaccination status of any individual cannot and should not be used to deprive him or her of access to public transportation,” he pointed out.
“The equal protection and due process clause of our Constitution dictates nothing less,” he further stressed.
Just like other public utilities such as water, telecoms, or power, Escudero said public transportation “must offer its services to the public without any discrimination or classification because it goes against the very nature of what it is—a public transportation.”
“Walang matibay na basehan ng polisiyang ito ng DOTr,” he said. “Mas magandang pagtibayin ay kung paano pa natin kukumbinsihin at hihikatayin ang mga mamamayang ayaw o takot magpabakuna at kung paano aabutin ang mahigit 30 porsyento pa ng target population na mabakunan pa.’”
(There’s no strong basis in this policy of the DOTr. It’s better that we focus on how we can convince the unvaccinated to get the COVID-19 vaccine and how we can achieve the 30% target population that still need to be vaccinated.)
Instead of resorting to intimidation and pressure, Escudero said the government should make vaccination accessible to the public.
Escudero also warned DOTr of a possible legal case against if the policy is not recalled.
“Hindi ako magtataka kung minsan ay may maghain ng petisyon sa Korte Suprema upang pigilan ang polisiya ng DOTR. Ang Pilipinas lang ata ang nag-iisa at bukod tangi sa buong mundo na nagbabawal ng mga hindi bakunado sa mga pampublikong sasakyan,” he said.
(I won’t be surprised if a petition is filed before the Supreme Court to to stop the DOTr policy. I think the Philippines is the only country in the world that bars unvaccinated individuals from public transportation.)
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