In Metro Manila, the unvaccinated banned from public transport from January 17

Expect police and law enforcement checks, as well as ‘mystery passengers’ inside public utility vehicles

MANILA, Philippines – The “no vaccination, no travel” policy in Metro Manila takes full effect on Monday, January 17, as the country continues to register record numbers due to the surge fueled by Omicron.

Under Ministerial Order (DO) No. 2022-001, the Department of Transportation (DOTr) has declared that only fully vaccinated individuals are permitted to board any mode of public transportation.

A person is considered fully vaccinated two weeks after receiving an injection of a one-dose vaccine or the second dose of a two-dose vaccine. Passengers must show proof of vaccination to drivers or transport workers before being allowed to board public transport.

On Monday, traffic wardens and police will start checking buses and jeepneys to see if the drivers are following the order.

The DOTr also told the public to expect “mystery passengers” or police officers to go “undercover” to check if the policy is being enforced.

But there are also exceptions:

  1. Unvaccinated people who have medical conditions that prevent them from being vaccinated
  2. Those in need of essential goods and services

Although not explicitly mentioned in the DO, the DOTr has said that those who go to vaccination sites to get vaccinated are exempt from this requirement. To be allowed to board, those exempted will need to present a medical certificate (for those with medical conditions) or a barangay health pass (for those obtaining essential goods).

If traveling by sea or air, passengers must present their vaccination records before being allowed to enter the terminal. The same is also required at Parañaque’s integrated terminal exchange.

The airlines either welcomed or said they would comply with the order. Cebu Pacific, for example, said it was offering flexible options until January 31 for unvaccinated people who would be affected by the ban on public transport. Affected passengers have up to two hours before the flight to postpone or adjust their travel plans.

According to the DOTr, the onus of ensuring that only vaccinated people are on board public transportation rests with drivers and operators. If unvaccinated passengers are caught without the necessary certification, the driver’s license or concession contract granted could be suspended or revoked.

The policy has been widely criticized by the public, with labor and mobility groups noting that it would be extremely difficult to implement on buses and jeepneys. They also warned that some may resort to using fake vaccination cards.

Responding to criticism, the department apologized for any inconvenience the policy may cause, but it also defended the requirement as necessary for public safety.

The DOTr reminded people that those who use fake IDs risk jail time or fines under the Revised Penal Code, Immunization Act, and related ordinances of the specific city they are in. .

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