“This is so absurd and totally inconsiderate! The government is not giving financial assistance to those affected by the pandemic , and yet, punishing them simply because they are unvaccinated without ascertaining the reason why, is very inhuman. Don’t they know that those availing public transport and even drivers of those public transportation are workers who have to struggle with no work, no pay policy?” says Daisy Arago, Executive Director of Center for Trade Union and Human Rights (CTUHR).
On January 17, 2022, DoTr started the enforcement of its “No Vaccine, No Ride policy” that bans unvaccinated people from riding public transport within Metro Manila to force the people to get the shot. Policemen and acting-like policemen are prohibiting unvaccinated individuals from riding, resulting to absence from work and loss of income. It was chaotic, as authorities enforced varying policies on the ground depending on the local policies of the local government units (LGUs).
Six days into its implementation, the much-criticized policy is still being enforced. The Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) was not helpful rather, it added to the confusion when it clarified day after the enforcement that essential workers are exempted from the policy. The police asserted there is no exemption.
“How do drivers determine who are the essential workers or not, if someone flagging the jeepney is in the middle of the route? In this time where public transportation is scarce and drivers have no income, this policy is nothing but anti poor and bitter pill that will kill the poor,” continued by CTUHR in a statement.
A No Vax, No Ride policy clearly sprouted from a classic way of the Duterte Government of putting the blame on the people for the recent surge of Covid 19 infections due to Omicron.
It could be recalled that its Task Force versus COVID 19 issued a ruling (IATF 148_B) on No vaccine, No work policy, which immediately saw an additional hundreds without work. Some employers have exploited the rule to get rid of their workers while some including may those who opposed the ruling asserted that vaccination is never a criteria for employment according to their very own ruling RA11525). The Committee on Labor of the lower House of Congress called for suspension of policy- implementation amidst the controversies. IATF snubbed the call, and the policy is still being implemented.
The government, rather than making up for their failed COVID-19 response s prefers to implement punitive policies against the people. We are lagging behind COVID response while our foreign debt (PhP10.41 trillion as of February 2021) ballooned. Let’s take a look at the government’s covid response. Duterte refused to implement a travel ban last January 2020 because it unfair to China. When the suspected cases rose to more than 600 by March, the Government imposed a hard lockdown nationwide. The government refused until now
to do mass testing in the early stage of the pandemic and those the police deemed violators were arrested and detained. The government’s failed to provide enough financial assistance (ayuda) for Filipino families subjected to the longest lockdown worldwide.
With the accumulated failure of the government to provide enough support for our health workers ( higher salaries and risks allowance) and failure to further boost the capacity of our public health facilities, the government is now forcing the people to get vaccinated, as if vaccine is the only means of securing public health against covid 19.
The Duterte Government’s reactive response to COVID-19 is like a snake eating its own tail. The implementation of the No Vaccine, No Ride Policy is one of the worst forms of the government’s desperate way to cover up these failures. Imposing punitive measures will further put the working class into a crisis (joblessness, hunger etc.) much worse than pandemic; a government that kills its own people.
Stop the No Vax, no ride policy Now!
Engage in free mas testing and massive information drive!
Strengthen our health care system!#