Press Releases

Salceda opposes restrictions on public transport for unvaccinated; House tax chair wants government to address vaccination concerns and capacitate barangays instead of tighter restrictions. With 52m vaccinated, what about the 58m unvaccinated?

January 13th, 2022

House Ways and Means Chair Joey Sarte Salceda (Albay, 2nd district) opposes the Department of Transportation directive that would prevent unvaccinated individuals, with certain exemptions, from public transportation.

In comments to Department Order (DO) No. 2022-001 issued Tuesday, which covers all modes of public transportation – land, rail, sea, and air – to and from Metro Manila, Salceda said that the issuance was clearly “out of line with the most fundamental right to mobility.”

“Section 12 of Republic Act No. 11525 very clearly states that we cannot make vaccination certificates a requirement for availing of government services, and at the very least, the DO will violate that in the case of LRTs, the MRT, and the EDSA Carousel,” Salceda said.’

“The point of vaccination is to ensure that we can keep the economy open. With 58 million Filipinos still without vaccines, restricting their mobility is nowhere near allowing the economy to operate,” Salceda said.

Salceda adds that he estimates that “even if we were to administer our entire vaccine inventory, you would only bump the number of vaccinated people up by 30 million people. That still leaves some 28 million unvaccinated. Let’s go for sensible solutions instead.”

“Before restrictive policies, we have to guarantee that anyone who wants a vaccine can get one. As such, the means to get a vaccine have to be widely available and with a special preference towards the poor. Otherwise, it could deny access to basic public services among the poor who want to get vaccinated, but whose LGUs have not reached them yet,” Salceda said.

Salceda also urged the government to “get the national vaccination database in order.”

“Even my own first dose was not recorded in the online vaccination certificate. It’s extremely easy to fake the LGU-issued vaccination certificates. And if any unvaccinated person is able to slip past the checks with a fake certificate, then the policy loses its point,”

Capacitate communities, strengthen vaccination and home care

Salceda said that he urges the “the Metro Manila Council to launch aggressive vaccination campaigns that provide transportation and other incentives to underprivileged communities. It would be extremely unfair if those who want to get vaccinated but have limited access to them are denied public transportation. It will affect their livelihoods.”

“I also urge the IATF and LGUs to consider having large workplaces as vaccination sites, so that workers can take them at break hours or after work hours and need not take time off of work. Fridays are probably the best time to do them since workers can recover from vaccine side effects on the weekend,” Salceda added.

“In my constituencies, we transport those who are willing to be vaccinated to the vaxxing sites for free and provide them food. I encourage NCR LGUs to take the same approach.”

“In general, the best way to guarantee higher vaccination rates is still wide and convenient access for those who are willing. Everyone who wants a vaccine should be able to get one at little cost in time and personal resources.”

“There is also plenty of brand hesitancy, more than vaccine hesitancy really. The DOH itself admitted that brand hesitancy was the driver of vaccine hesitancy. Studies by the World Bank and the ADB also seem to arrive at the same conclusion. Fortunately, the brands that people prefer now comprise a larger share of all our vaccines,” Salceda added.

Home testing and quarantine, Salceda adds, will also be more crucial during the Omicron surge.

“This is a light variant, but it’s very infectious, so if we let it slip without community-led interventions, this could go out of hand. That’s why I am advocating for mass rapid testing, through antigen test kits, so that we can act quickly on positive cases,” Salceda said.

Salceda said BHWs will be able to administer rapid antigen tests and get results quickly, allowing public health authorities to isolate and treat cases at home.

“If we can keep the sick at home, everyone else should be able to get around and work. That is how to keep the economy open, not by tightening the noose around people who are not vaccinated not by their own fault.” (end)

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