Press Release
January 19, 2022

Dispatch from Crame N0. 1208:
Sen. Leila M. de Lima's further comments on the "no vax, no ride" Policy

The first day of implementation of the "no vax, no ride" policy might have gone smoothly according to the PNP, but commuters who have been barred from public transportation have a different story.

They were prevented from riding public transportation not because they refuse to be vaccinated. Several are still waiting for the date of their second dose. Some have medical reasons for their hesitancy to get vaccinated. Many simply have no access to the vaccine up to this time.

Most of them come from the lower classes who, vaxxed or not, have no monthly salary and have to eke out a living every day, where a single day that they are refused access to public transportation means another day where their family has to starve.

Simply put, a government that has failed to deliver enough vaccines for the people at this point has no business demanding that everyone should already be vaccinated by this time.

According to Reuters, the Philippines has administered at least 118,944,887 doses of COVID-19 vaccines so far. That is enough to have vaccinated only about 55% of the country's population. The other 45% are still waiting for their first or second dose. When several, if not many, have already been boostered while many are still waiting for their first dose, there is unequal access. Government must first solve this problem of access to vaccines before it starts penalizing the unvaccinated.

The "no vax, no ride" policy has generated a host of other problems. It is unfair to jeepney drivers who are tasked to inspect the vaccination card of each passenger and are issued violation tickets or meted with fine in case they allow unvaxxed passengers. They who have been struggling already for daily survival since the onset of the pandemic.

It is unfair to barangay officials who are threatened with harsh penalties, including termination, by the DILG. It is even unfair to the PNP, whose time and energy are better spent on more pressing law enforcement matters, other than inspecting commuters' vaccination cards.

Most of all, it is unfair to the unvaxxed who, due to no fault of their own, remain to be without access to the vaccine, or who have been bombarded with anti-vaccine propaganda by an anti-vaxxer public official since the start of the Duterte administration. Let's not forget that the Filipino's distrust of vaccines started with her, as tolerated by this government during its politically-motivated Dengvaxia witchhunt.

I'm afraid that this "no vax, no ride" policy will continue to generate concern among the poor unvaxxed who are effectively on lockdown, regardless of palliative "exemptions," assuming these "exemptions" are even being implemented or properly implemented due to the lack of guidelines on the determination if the "exempted" unvaxxed are on a legitimate business when they take public transportation.

Government efforts have to be devoted more to initiatives aimed at achieving maximum vaccination rate and other pandemic-related responses. Instead of coming up with policies that divide the populace between the vaxxed and unvaxxed, the government should step up on its vaccination information drive and solve the major problem on vaccine accessibility.

Access the handwritten copy of Dispatch from Crame No. 1208, here:

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