COVID-19 vaccines

In QC, unvaccinated commuters brought to vax site

Aika Rey
In QC, unvaccinated commuters brought to vax site

MANDATORY CHECK. Members of i-ACT and the Philippine Coast Guard inspect the vaccination cards of commuters at the Edsa Bus Carousel in Pasay City as the Department of Transportation implements the No Vaccination, No Ride Policy on January 17, 2022.

Rappler

No penalties yet, just warnings for drivers who will fail to ensure that only vaccinated commuters are inside public vehicles

MANILA, Philippines – On the first day of the implementation of the “no vaccination, no ride” policy on Monday, January 17, commuters who did not have vaccination cards were not allowed to board or were asked to alight from public utility vehicles (PUVs).

In Quezon City, some 130 commuters who were identified as not vaccinated received their first dose of COVID-19 vaccine at the Quezon Memorial Circle.

Transportation Assistant Secretary Mark Steven Pastor explained to Rappler that the unvaccinated were passengers apprehended by enforcers of the Land Transportation and Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) and Inter-Agency Council for Traffic (I-ACT) along Commonwealth Avenue in QC.

Since these passengers did not fall under the exemptions to the policy, Pastor said the commuters were turned over to the QC government. Pastor clarified that it was not DOTr policy to bring unvaccinated commuters directly to vaccination sites after apprehension.

Rappler reached out to the QC Public Affairs and Information Services Department, but it has yet to comment on the matter as of this posting.

The QC government has been implementing stricter rules against the unvaccinated and has been going around public places and markets to make sure that residents are vaccinated. Unvaccinated people are given the choice to either pay a fine or get vaccinated.

Overall, Pastor said that the implementation of the policy was “generally peaceful.”

“[E]nforcers on the ground were able to comprehensively explain the guidelines of the DOTr (Department of Transportation) and the commuters were very cooperative and compliant,” Pastor told Rappler.

On Monday, I-ACT and LTFRB deployed enforcers and members of the Highway Patrol Group around the capital region, including EDSA Busway stations, Quezon Avenue, and Aurora Boulevard.

Mystery passengers were also deployed. The undercover enforcers informed drivers of who they were as well as the DOTr policy upon alighting the PUV, Pastor said.

At terminals and checkpoints, enforcers asked commuters to show their vaccination cards and IDs before being allowed to board PUVs.

In total, 516 passengers were denied rides. These passengers either did not have vaccination cards or other documents to show they are exempted from the policy.

NO RIDE. A personnel places a ‘No Vaccine Card, No Ride’ on a bus windshield at a terminal in Pasay City.

Drivers, meanwhile, were only issued warnings on Monday. The DOTr said that tickets will be issued to drivers starting Tuesday, January 18.

DOTr also distanced itself from local government units, some of which had enforcers issuing tickets already.

“They are enforcing it anchored on their respective ordinances,” DOTr Assistant Secretary Goddes Libiran told reporters earlier on Monday.

According to LTFRB, drivers and operators who would be caught violating the policy would face the following fines:

  • First offense – fine of P5,000
  • Second offense – fine of P10,000 and impounding of unit for 30 days
  • Third and subsequent offenses – fine of P15,000 and suspension or cancelation of franchise

The LTFRB also said that it would recommend the suspension of the driver’s license of the apprehended driver.

On Monday, the National Confederation of Transport Workers’ Union – Sentro ng mga Nagkakaisa at Progresibong Manggagawa (NCTU-Sentro) said that commuters and drivers “should not be burdened” with problematic policies such as the “no vaccination, no ride.”

“It is difficult for drivers to check the vaccination cards of every passenger. Even then, most also do not earn enough for their families. The added requirement to screen passengers is another unnecessary burden for these drivers. Where will you get the resources to do this effectively?” said NCTU president Ernie Cruz.

NCTU also asked the government to implement service contracting, “instead of harassing commuters and drivers, to provide decent jobs to drivers and safe transport for commuters.”

But Pastor reiterated that DOTr would be “tolerant and firm” in enforcing the policy.

Hindi habol dito ‘yung penalty (We are not after the penalty), it’s to support the policy,” said Pastor. – Rappler.com

Aika Rey

Aika Rey is a business reporter for Rappler. She covered the Senate of the Philippines before fully diving into numbers and companies. Got tips? Find her on Twitter at @reyaika or shoot her an email at aika.rey@rappler.com.