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Unvaxxed can still travel — DoTr

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The Department of Transportation (DoTr) clarified on Thursday that unvaccinated individuals against the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) are still free to travel in the National Capital Region (NCR), provided that they will use a private vehicle.

The agency said that there is no directive that will prohibit the public — especially the unvaccinated individuals from traveling.

“Unvaccinated individuals are allowed to travel by using other means aside from public transport. Even the department order of the DoTr has exceptions,” the DoTr said.

“Remember that the so-called right to ride needs to be balanced with our responsibility as transport regulator to maintain and preserve safe travel,” it added.

This comes following the directive of DoTr Secretary Arthur Tugade of the “no vaccination, no ride” policy on Tuesday, which will prohibit the unvaccinated individuals from using all modes of public transportation in Metro Manila.

The directive gained mixed reactions from the public and other sectors.

The Commission on Human Rights, for an instance, described that policy as a “restriction” on the access to fundamental rights, noting that ordinary Filipinos are still relying on public transportation in attaining basic needs, such as for food, work, and accessing health services.

In a phone call interview, Alan Tanjusay, spokesperson of the Trade Union Congress of the Philippines, strongly expressed his opposition to the department order, which he described as “discriminatory.”

Meanwhile, Pilipino Society and Development Advocates Commuter-Consumer Inc. (Pasada), a commuter group, favored the policy which will take effect on 17 January or until the capital region is under Alert Level 3 or higher.

“We support the memorandum which was ordered by Transportation Secretary Arthur Tugade, because it will help us stop the spread of Covid-19 in our community, especially in NCR,” PASADA spokesperson Richard Rivera said.

“The DoTr just added another layer to determine who are the vaccinated individuals from those who are not. We support this policy of the DoTr,” Rivera said.

For its part, the Transport department said that the policy is for the benefit of the majority and the common good as it will safeguard those that are most at risk. It also denied that the policy is “anti-poor.”

“On those saying that the “no vaccination, no ride/entry” policy in public transport is anti-poor, draconian or punitive, we believe that it is more anti-poor and anti-life if we will not impose interventions that will prevent loss of life due to non-vaccinations,” the DoTr said.

“Hence, we apologize for any inconvenience this may cause the riding public. It is important to note that the policy only takes effect while Alert Level 3 (or higher) is implemented to stem the surging cases of Covid-19, particularly with the spread of the highly infectious Omicron variant,” it added.

The department also assured the public that the said policy will be both tolerant and firm.

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