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ABANTE: DOTR’S ‘NO VAX NO RIDE’ ORDER UNNECESSARY

With the Department of Transportation’s (DOTr) “no vaccination, no ride” policy set to be fully implemented on Monday, January 17,  Deputy Speaker Benny Abante, Jr. urged the DOTr to reconsider and rescind its department order prohibiting unvaccinated individuals from riding public utility vehicles, and said on Friday that there were already safeguards in place to protect the riding public from COVID-19.

“The DOTr order is legally dubious and could be uconstitutional without a law to support it,” said Abante, who questioned the DOTr’s legal justifications for the order.

The lawmaker took issue with the DOTr position that their order did not violate an individual’s right to travel as there were alternatives to public transportation.

Abante pointed out that it was sufficient that cities in the National Capital Region like Manila already have ordinances that bar the unvaccinated from riding public utility vehicles (PUV). 

The House leader cited Manila Ordinance No. 8800 which states that unvaccinated individuals shall “be prohibited in domestic travel via public transportation by land, seas, and air.”

“But the real issue for me is not whether orders like these are legal, but whether these are right; makatarungan ba ito? Makatarungan ba na sabihin natin sa mga di bakunado na bawal sila mag jeep o bus papuntang trabaho? Paano kung wala silang kotse? Maglalakad na lang sila?”

The lawmaker took issue with the DOTr position that their order did not violate an individual’s right to travel as there were alternatives to public transportation.

“A majority of our people,” lamented the solon, “don’t have cars or other alternatives.”

Abante stressed that he is in favor of measures “to encourage Filipinos to get the life-saving COVID vaccines.”

The DOTr on January 11 issued Department Order (DO) No. 2022-001 which states that PUV operators “shall allow access or issue tickets only to fully vaccinated persons.” In a briefing on January 12, the DOTr explained that the agency expected the order to be fully implemented on Monday, January 17. 

In a press statement, the DOTr explained that under their order, “there is no directive to prohibit travel. Unvaccinated individuals are allowed to travel by using other means aside from public transport.” 
While he said he disagreed with the DOTr order, Abante stressed that he is in favor of measures “to encourage Filipinos to get the life-saving COVID vaccines.”

“As a senior citizen who has survived two bouts of COVID, I know firsthand that vaccines work. I believe that as more of our countrymen find out that the vaccines are effective, fewer of them will be reluctant to get jabbed. We in government must work harder to convince the doubters to get vaccinated instead of forcing their hand.” 

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