Various transport groups, legislators, as well as the Private Hospitals Association of the Philippines (PHAP) have expressed their support for the Department of Transportation’s (DOTr) decision to ban unvaccinated individuals from using public transportation in Metro Manila.

Commuters in Philcoa, Quezon City are forced to wait in line after public utility vehicles (PUVs) were only allowed to operate at 50 percent capacity during the previous implementation of an enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) in the National Capital Region (NCR)-plus bubble. (Mark Balmores/ File photo/ MANILA BULLETIN)

The DOTr issued Department Order No. 2022–001 to enforce a “no vaccination, no ride” policy which only allows fully vaccinated passengers to take public transportation to, from, and within the National Capital Region (NCR).

In a recent meeting with the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) on the new policy, NCR and provincial bus operators plying the Metro Manila route vowed to fully comply with the order.

These include the Liga ng mga Transportasyon at mga Operator sa Pilipinas (LTOP), a union of jeepney, UV Express and tricycle operators in the NCR; and transport group Pangkalahatang Sanggunian Manila & Suburbs Drivers Association (Pasang Masda).

The ParaƱaque Integrated Terminal Exchange (PITX) also assured that it will coordinate with the transport regulator in enforcing the order and to ensure the safety of passengers at the terminal.

In the aviation sector, flag carrier Philippine Airlines (PAL) already expressed its “strong support” with the DOTr, adding that it will “uphold the strictest safety standards and health protocols in our continuing operation of our domestic and international flight network.”

“We are one with the DOTr and the Philippine air transport sector in working to sustain vital air services throughout the country, facilitating the delivery of urgent goods, including life saving vaccines, and helping our OFW and overseas Filipinos fly to their home provinces,” PAL Express President Bonifacio Sam said.

Meanwhile, Senator Grace Poe, who chairs the Senate Committee on Public Services, and House Committee on Transportation Chairman Rep. Edgar Sarmiento also supported the policy which they said will help in protecting the riding public.

Sarmiento likewise urged unvaccinated individuals to comply with the DOTr’s directive until COVID-19 cases in the NCR have dropped.

PHAP President Dr. Jose Rene de Grano also shared the same sentiment and supported the DOTr’s “No Vaccine, No Ride” policy.

He suggested unvaccinated individuals to stay at home to avoid catching the virus, saying that most of the unvaccinated population are severely hit by the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) due to lack of protection.

The policy, set to take effect on Monday, Jan. 17, was in line with President Duterte’s order to restrict the movement of unvaccinated individuals in Metro Manila amid a renewed surge in the number of COVID-19 cases.

Under the order, the policy will remain in effect while Metro Manila is under Alert Level 3 or a higher quarantine classification.

While the transport ban did not sit well with some private and public groups who called the policy “anti-poor,” the DOTr defended its decision which they said aims to protect and not to discriminate.

“[The policy] was made to protect all—whether vaccinated or unvaccinated individuals—to safeguard those that are most at risk, our healthcare system, and our exhausted medical workers amid the recent surge of COVID-19 cases recorded in the country,” the DOTr said.

Source: Manila Bulletin (