Albay solon opposes restrictions on transport for unvaccinated

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An Albay lawmaker has expressed opposition to the controversial directive of the Department of Transportation to bar unvaccinated individuals, with certain exemptions, from public transportation.

In comments to Department Order (DO) No. 2022-001 issued Tuesday, which covers all modes of public transportation – land, rail, sea, and air – to and from Metro Manila, Albay Rep. Joey Salceda said that the issuance was clearly “out of line with the most fundamental right to mobility.”

“Section 12 of Republic Act No. 11525 very clearly states that we cannot make vaccination certificates a requirement for availing of government services, and at the very least, the DO will violate that in the case of LRTs, the MRT, and the EDSA Carousel,” Salceda said.’

“The point of vaccination is to ensure that we can keep the economy open. With 58 million Filipinos still without vaccines, restricting their mobility is nowhere near allowing the economy to operate,” Salceda said.

Salceda added that he estimates that “even if we were to administer our entire vaccine inventory, you would only bump the number of vaccinated people up by 30 million people. That still leaves some 28 million unvaccinated. Let’s go for sensible solutions instead.”

Salceda also urged the government to “get the national vaccination database in order.”

“Even my own first dose was not recorded in the online vaccination certificate. It’s extremely easy to fake the LGU-issued vaccination certificates. And if any unvaccinated person is able to slip past the checks with a fake certificate, then the policy loses its point,”

Salceda also urged the Metro Manila Council to launch aggressive vaccination campaigns that provide transportation and other incentives to underprivileged communities.

“It would be extremely unfair if those who want to get vaccinated but have limited access to them are denied public transportation. It will affect their livelihoods.”

He stressed that the best way to guarantee higher vaccination rates is still wide and convenient access for those who are willing.

“Everyone who wants a vaccine should be able to get one at little cost in time and personal resources.”