Stop penalizing the unvaccinated; resolve gaps in unequal access to vaccines instead – De Lima


Share on facebook
Share on twitter

Opposition Senator Leila M. de Lima bewailed the recent implementation of the “no vaccination, no ride” policy in Metro Manila’s public transportation which has generated other problems affecting commuters, drivers and even authorities.

De Lima, a social justice and human rights champion, maintained that the government should spend its energy in solving the problem of unequal access to the vaccine and addressing vaccine hesitancy instead of focusing in penalizing the unvaccinated.

“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,” she said.

“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,” she added.

Last January 17, the Department of Transportation (DOTr) started the implementation of its “no vaccination, no ride” policy in Metro Manila’s public transportation to further restrict the movement of unvaccinated individuals.

Public transport commuters are required to present their vaccination cards, vaccination certificates, as well as government-issued IDs as supporting documents before they are allowed inside public transport vehicles.

While the PNP claimed that the first day of implementation of the “no vax-no ride” policy have gone smoothly, De Lima stressed that certain 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,” she said.

“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,” she added.

According to Reuters, the Philippines has administered at least 118,944,887 doses of COVID vaccines so far, which 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,” she maintained.

De Lima lamented that the “no vax, no ride” policy also burdens jeepney drivers who are tasked to inspect the vaccination card of each passenger, as well as barangay officials who are threatened with harsh penalties, including termination, by the government.

She further lamented how “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,” she added. (30)

Office of Senator Leila de Lima
Rm. 502 & 16 (New Wing 5/F) GSIS Bldg., Financial Center, Diokno Blvd., Pasay City

Trunk Lines:
(632) 552-6601 to 70 local no. 5750

Direct Lines:
807-8489 / (Rm. 16) 807-8580 /local 8619

© 2019 Office of Sen. Leila de Lima. All rights reserved.