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NCRPO admits challenges in vetting vax cards amid 'no vax, no ride' enforcement

Franco Luna - Philstar.com
NCRPO admits challenges in vetting vax cards amid 'no vax, no ride' enforcement
Police officers screen motorists and commuters passing the border of Bulacan and Caloocan in San Jose Del Monte on the first day of Implementation of a renewed lockdown or enhanced community quarantine on Monday, March 29, 2021.
The STAR / Michael Varcas

MANILA, Philippines — Cops deployed to enforce the transportation department's "no vaccine, no ride" policy on public transportation had difficulties due to the lack of uniform vaccination cards issued by local government units, the National Capital Region Police Office admitted Tuesday. 

At a meeting on Tuesday afternoon on the designation of media security point persons, Police Lt. Col. Jenny Tecson, spokesperson for Metro Manila police, said that police were "unable to verify the authenticity" of vaccination cards being presented to them as these had different formats. 

Just like contact tracing apps, vaccine certifications are issued by local government units and are largely disuniform. 

"Police officers on duty must be vigilant for possible fake cards. Concerned agencies [should sit] down to discuss possible gray areas prior [to] implementation," her presentation read. 

Moving forward, Tecson suggested digitizing a full list of vaccinated individuals for cops to verify the authenticity of cards quicker. 

She also suggested a "hotline number of the doctor or medical facility that will accommodate queries regarding vaccinated and unvaccinated individuals" along with a "uniform medical certificate for vaccinated individuals that will validate their cards."

As it currently stands, local government units have carried the bulk of responsibility for the government's pandemic response. President Rodrigo Duterte put city chiefs and their barangay captains largely in charge of vaccinating their constituents.

The NCRPO immediately deployed personnel "to beef up the need force" for the department order's implementation. 

According to Tecson, the capital region's police were able to "maximize the presence of police on the ground who were also tasked to assist in checking the vaccination cards of the commuters."

Cops breaching rules, too

The NCRPO spokesperson also admitted that cops were reported violating quarantine rules.

"In some areas, police officers are seen violating the same rules that they implement which made the public [not] follow as well," she also admitted. 

"Police offers must be a role model to the public and assure that there is no exemption to the rule regardless [of] if they are the ones implementing it."

She did not mention any moves to hold erring cops accountable and instead went on to highlight the need for more cops in public areas. 

READ: Whatever happened to: Quarantine violators in Philippine government

Tecson said that the NCRPO is in talks with local government units and other partner agencies to implement stricter health protocols amid the spread of the Omicron variant of COVID-19.

The NCRPO suggested round-the-clock CCTV monitoring in public areas to immediately deploy cops once public health violations are monitored. 

"Police visibility must be available most of the time to make sure that the public will adhere to the rule," she said. 

"The public has the tendency to forget to follow minimum public health standards once the police are no longer present in the area."

PHILIPPINE NATIONAL POLICE

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