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DOTr says no tickets just yet in first day of 'no vax, no ride' implementation

Franco Luna - Philstar.com
DOTr says no tickets just yet in first day of 'no vax, no ride' implementation
A bus company puts up no vaccine no ride sign at their terminal in Buendia, Pasay on Jan. 14, 2022.
The STAR / Michael Varcas

MANILA, Philippines — Monday marked the start of the full implementation of the Transportation Department's order to implement a "no vaccination, no ride" policy on all modes of public transportation in Metro Manila. 

In a series of Viber messages on Monday morning, the Department of Transportation assured Filipinos that the implementation would not be as strict in the beginning.

"[The] implementation of the policy must be tolerant and patient, but firm...Enforcers will do their best to just cite warnings. In the coming days, that's when they'll give tickets," Transportation spokesperson Goddess Libiran said. 

Here's a quick guide on what to expect as the DOTr rolls out the implementation and enforcement of the order. 

What will transportation enforcers be doing? "We are just warning about PUV's today. We are not stamped. ‘Those on bikes, Task Force Discipline of the QC LGU are visiting them. They have an outpost because they are close to our place," the Inter-Agency Council for Traffic said. 

Earlier, though, the Department of Transportation said that it would be planting "mystery passengers" to ensure compliance with the policy "even if there are no uniformed enforcers around."

The DOTr also said it was looking at setting up "points of checking" to allow enforcers to check public utility vehicles.

However, it was careful to point out that these points of checking were different from the quarantine checkpoints from the Philippine National Police and the election safety checkpoints by the Commission on Elections. 

How are local governments enforcing it? Only enforcers under the I-ACT, Land Transportation Office, and the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board are under the Department of Transportation. 

However, some commuters on social media are reporting heavy-handed treatment by enforcers from local government units, which the DOTr distanced from when asked about it. 

"LGUs are not under DOTr. They are operating and issuing tickets in line with their respective ordinances...I understand that even the PNP Highway Patrol Group is just giving out warnings today," Libiran said.

What about the drivers and operators? LTFRB Executive Director Tina Cassion said that violations of the department order constitute a breach of franchise conditions where the "following penalties apply as the case may be":

  • 1st offense - fine of P5,000
  • 2nd offense - fine of P10,000 and impounding of unit apprehended for 30 days
  • 3rd or subsequent offense: fine of P15,000 and suspension or cancellation of the franchise

"For the apprehended driver, LTFRB will recommend to LTO the suspension of the driver's license," Cassion is quoted as saying in a Viber message to reporters. 

Asked how it can operationalize the policy, the DOTr said earlier that the burden of the policy is on drivers and operators who will have to check if each passenger is able to present a vaccination card before allowing them to board.

What does this mean for commuters? During the enhanced community quarantine, jeepney drivers said that checkpoints set up for enforcers to check on the observance of minimum public health standards only intimidated drivers with aggressive enforcement, forcing some to stay at home instead out of fear of operating at a loss.

This only meant less transport options for the commuting public, they said. 

"At 4:48 a.m., the queue to show the guard a vaccination card at the LRT-1 Monumento Station was already long," one commuter posted on a Facebook group for commuter advocates. 

What about active transportation? "Cycling is not covered by the DO. Definitely, that isn't included in the implementation of no vax, no ride," Libiran said. 

Why does this matter? According to data from the Japan International Cooperation Agency, 88% or almost nine out of ten households in Metro Manila do not own private vehicles and have to rely on public transportation. 

As of this writing, only 67.8% of Metro Manila residents are fully vaccinated. Transport and human rights groups continue to call for better access to vaccines instead of punishments for the unvaccinated. 

DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION

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