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Cebu News

Gwen rejects ‘no vaccine, no ride’

Le Phyllis F. Antojado - The Freeman

CEBU, Philippines — Cebu Governor Gwendolyn Garcia is not amenable to the idea of imposing a “no vaccine, no ride” policy, which is being implemented in the transport sector in Metro Manila to help stem the rise of COVID-19 infections.

According to Garcia, such policy is “anti-poor.”

Garcia cited Republic Act 115251 or Covid-19 Vaccination Program Act of 2021 which provides that: “Provided further, that the vaccine cards shall not be considered as an additional mandatory requirement for educational, employement and other smilar government transaction purposes.”

Garcia said even while Cebu province is under Alert Level 3 status for COVID-19, the province is not implementing border control measures, although there are checkpoints.

With checkpoints, she said, authorities will only check if passengers are wearing face masks or whether the public utility vehicle is operating al fresco, meaning with windows open.

She emphasized that vaccination cards are not required to be able to ride in public utility vehicles.

“There will be no further requirement like the presentation of the vaccination card, that is anti-poor. How can you require everyone to have this vaccination card presented for them to avail of public transport,” Garcia said.

The governor said those who have opted not get vaccinated should not be discriminated against because getting vaccinated, according to her, is a choice.

“As I have always said, vaccination is a matter of choice. Give that respect to an individual,” Garcia said.

Last January 19, Garcia also issued a memorandum directing mayors in Cebu province not to implement “no vaccine, no work” policy.

Vaccination cards will not be required in official and business transactions.

“You are hereby enjoined to refrain from requiring the presentation of a vaccination card as a requirement for any educational, employment and other similar government transactions purpose,” part of Garcia’s memo to the mayor read.

Reaction

Atty. Jose Aaron Pedrosa, who is the national secretary-general of Sanlakas, said that governor has taken good counsel on the matter.

  “However, the challenge to aggressively educate and inform the people of the benefits of being vaccinate in the context of doubts and fears about the efficacy and effectiveness of vaccines remains,” he said.

Pedrosa said that the government should ramp up its vaccination campaign instead of penalizing workers for the laggard vaccine rollout.

He said that the government is far from achieving the 70% vax rate of the country's population and much of that could be faulted on the lack of vaccines and a laggard rollout. The target was supposed to be end of last year.

“While there are a number of those who opt not to be vaccinated, they should not be made to suffer because of their choice. The Constitution guarantees equal protection for all apart from enjoying their freedom not to be vaccinated,” he said.

Pedrosa added that the officialdom should aggressively mobilize  resources in educating people and countering the prevailing fear and apprehension against vaccines instead of forcing people to just be vaccinated.

“This brings to mind the damage done by the Dengvaxia scare because of government's own doing,” the social activist and militant leader further said

The Trade Union Congress of the Philippines (TUCP), for its part, lauded Cebu Governor Gwendolyn Garcia for doing the right thing in prohibiting the implementation of  'no vaccine, no work' practice in their jurisdictions.

TUCP president and TUCP Partylist Rep. Raymond Mendoza said that the faithful compliance and enforcement of this policy memorandum of the Governor throughout the entire province will not only protect the welfare of the workers but will also allow businesses to continue to operate smoothly.

7 million mark breached

Meanwhile, Central Visayas has breached the 7 million marked for number of doses administered as Cebu is almost 5 million doses administered as of January 18, 2022, the Visayas COVID-19 Vaccination Operations Center reported yesterday.

VVOC spokesperson and Department of Health-7 chief pathologist Dr. Mary Jean Loreche said that a total of 7,103,156 doses have been administered in Central Visayas — 3,775,202 for the first dose, 3,184,635 for the second dose, and 143,319 for the booster dose.

 Of the total doses administered in Central Visayas, a total of 4,878,576 doses in Cebu; 1,134,959 doses in Bohol; 959,031 doses in Negros Oriental; and 130,590 doses in Siquijor.

  Loreche added that Central Visayas, as of January 6, 2022, has received a total of 8,452,712 different brands of vaccines.

However, she said that the number of vaccines received by the region is now higher as they will update their data in the coming days.

Latest data also showed that the A1 priority group or the healthcare workers with an eligible population of 131,989 have already been fully vaccinated and 38,117 of them inoculated with a booster shot.

For the A2 or the senior citizens with an eligible population of 589,773 for vaccination, so far, only 265,915 have been administered with the first dose, 290,585 with second dose and 21,465 with booster shot.

For the A3 or persons with comorbidities, 272,427 doses, 475,520 doses and 21,369 doses have been administered for the first, second and booster shots, respectively. This group has an eligible population for inoculation of 701,793.

For the A4 or the economic frontliners that has an eligible population of 1,129,712, they are almost done with their vaccination for the first dose (1,130,232 doses administered) and for the second dose (976,315 doses administered) while still at 2.2 percent or 24,810 for the booster shot.

 The A5 or the indigent population with an eligible population of 1,581,216 for jabbing, a total of 475,846 doses have been administered for the first dose, 364,966 for the second dose and 1,930 for the booster dose.

The rest of the population, with 1,226,860 eligible for vaccination, has these figures: 811,407 got the first dose, 552,238 second dose, and 18,572 booster dose. — Mitchelle L. Palaubsanon, JMD (FREEMAN)

GWENDOLYN GARCIA

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