Philippines accused of being ‘anti-poor’ with public transport ban over unvaccinated Covid | Philippines

The Philippine government has defended a controversial ban that prevents unvaccinated people from using public transport in the capital of Manila, denying that the policy is “anti-poor”.

The ‘no vaccination, no commute’ policy is designed to curb a recent surge of Covid infections and applies to all modes of transport to and from Metro Manila, including public buses, jeepneys , the train, the boats and the planes. The policy will be fully implemented from Monday, according to local media, when passengers will be required to present proof of vaccination.

Less than half of Filipinos are fully immunized, although vaccination rates are higher in the capital, at over 90% of the eligible population.

Rights groups including the Philippine Commission on Human Rights and Amnesty International have criticized the travel ban for unvaccinated people, warning it penalizes the poorest, who are less likely to have the ability to work from home or travel in a private vehicle.

“The reality is that ordinary Filipinos continue to depend on public transportation to meet their basic needs, such as food, work and access to health services,” the Philippine Human Rights Commission said in a statement. a statement. He fears that even those who should be exempt from the rules may still struggle to access essential goods or services because they do not have a private vehicle.

The Philippine Human Rights Commission said the government should find less punitive ways to promote vaccination. “We continue to urge the government to address vaccine hesitancy and low vaccination rates in the country with education that addresses common misconceptions and positive encouragement,” he said.

The Department for Transport, however, said the policy was not “anti-poor, draconian or punitive”, adding: “We think it is more anti-poor and anti-life if we don’t impose d interventions that will prevent loss of life due to non-vaccination.

He said exemptions would be given to people who could not get vaccinated for medical reasons, as well as those who had to buy essential goods or travel to a vaccination site.

The Philippines has recently seen a spike in infections, which health experts have blamed on the more transmissible Omicron variant. The country reported a record 34,021 cases Thursday, the highest since the start of the pandemic, half of which were reported in the National Capital Region. Another 82 deaths have been confirmed.

The rise in cases has strained public services, including hospitals and schools, as well as private businesses. Schools in the capital have announced they will close for a week, with no online or in-person classes, while the government has limited the amount of paracetamol and other over-the-counter drugs that can be purchased by an individual or household . , due to shortages in stores.

Last week, unvaccinated people in Manila and several other provinces and cities were told to stay at home, as President Rodrigo Duterte ordered the arrest of those breaking orders. Under the rules, unvaccinated residents can only leave their homes for essential reasons such as work or to buy essentials or access medical care.

Businesses such as restaurants and beauty salons are also operating at a lower capacity, as are churches and parks.

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