AS THE government’s “no vaccination, no ride” policy meets strong backlash, Sen. Francis “Kiko” Pangilinan on Thursday said the wise decision by Cebu Gov. Gwendolyn Garcia to junk the controversial policy supports the marginalized in the province.
“Pro-poor ang magaling na desisyon ni Cebu Gov. Gwen na ibasura ang no vax, no ride policy. She is receiving wise and great counsel from her advisers,” Pangilinan said.
“Isang wagi para sa hanay ng mga mahihirap at mga nasa laylayan ang ginawang pagbabasura ni Gov. Gwen,” he added.
Metro Manila has enforced the policy supposedly as a way to curb the spread of the more transmissible omicron coronavirus variant. Only fully vaccinated individuals will be allowed to use public transportation.
But Garcia announced that Cebu will not heed the rule because it is anti-poor. Instead, she ordered the police to set up checkpoints to ensure that passengers wear face masks, that public utility vehicles ply their routes with windows open, and physical distancing and other health protocols are followed.
The governor said Republic Act 115251 (Covid19 Vaccination Program Act of 2021) provides “that the vaccine cards shall not be considered as an additional mandatory requirement for educational, employment and other similar government transaction purposes.”
Calls for a halt in the no vax, no ride implementation has since snowballed after Pangilinan made the plea to the government to end it as it will only punish the poor.
“Walang puso at parang hindi pinag-isipan ang polisiya na ‘yan na dumagdag pa sa paghihirap ng ating mga kababayan,” Pangilinan said.
Pangilinan said he hopes other local government units will take a second look at the policy and follow Cebu’s firm stance to side with reason and compassion in dealing with the pandemic.
Instead of penalizing and punishing Filipinos, notably the poor ones, Pangilinan said the government should do more to roll out and act better to administer more vaccines on a daily basis.
“The government is not admitting that the core of the problem is the lack of readily available supply of vaccines. There is an extremely limited number of vials of vaccines transported to vaccine sites daily. People are willing to be vaccinated, but the government supply is weak,” Pangilinan said.
“Two years into the pandemic, we are still fixing the supply chain system. Yet, the government has no all-out campaign to educate, inform, and communicate to the public why anti-Covid vaccines are important. Parusa at pahirap lang ang alam nilang gawin,” Pangilinan said.
Chaos characterized the first day of its implementation in Metro Manila as thousands were denied in buses or jeepneys, including workers and those who have yet to complete their doses.
“Nakita naman natin sa TV na naiyak na iyong isang ginang dahil ayaw siyang pasakayin sa bus papuntang trabaho dahil isa pa lang ang bakuna nya. Iyon pala, kapapanganak lang nya, at dahil December lang sya nagpabakuna, hindi naman nya pwedeng ipilit na bigyan na sya agad ng second dose,” Pangilinan said.
“Sa mga ganitong sitwasyon na may lehitimong dahilan naman ang ating mga kababayan kung bakit hindi pa sila fully vaccinated, hindi sagot ang isang marahas na polisiya,” he added.
On Wednesday, Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III clarified that workers are exempted from the no vax, no ride policy. He also apologized for the confusion over the rollout of the policy.