COVID-19 Crisis: No Vax, No Ride policy is unconstitutional and discriminating?

Life has gotten much more challenging for the many people here in the Philippines who still have not yet gotten vaccinated for COVID-19. The unvaccinated people are being regulated by varied government units (for reference, click here, here and here). Just yesterday, the No Vax, No Ride policy under the Department of Transportation (DOTr) was implemented officially and already two drivers have been apprehended within Muntinlupa City for allegedly violating it.

At the same time, someone has spoken out against the No Vax, No Ride policy with regards to legality and constitutionality, according to a GMA Network news report. To put things in perspective posted below is an excerpt from the GMA news report. Some parts in boldface…

The recent policy requiring commuters to present their vaccination cards before boarding public vehicles is unconstitutional and discriminatory, Public Attorneys Office (PAO) chief Persida Acosta said Monday.

“I think the policy of the LGUs is highly unconstitutional and against the law,” Acosta told ANC.

Acosta cited Republic Act 11525 which states that vaccine cards “shall not be considered an additional mandatory requirement for educational, employment, and other similar government transaction purposes.”

“And yet they are circumventing. Lalabag nila ‘yung batas indirectly para mapiitan kang magpabakuna. You need magpabakuna para pasakayin ka. Ano ‘yun pinupwersa,” Acosta said.

(And yet they are circumventing. You will indirectly violate the law so you will be forced to get vaccinated. You need to get vaccinated so you will be able to board. You are being forced.)

Under the new policy, only full vaccinated individuals in the National Capital Region may board public transportation vehicles while the region is under Alert Level 3 or higher. Alert Level 3 is currently in effect in NCR until January 31.

Exemptions to the policy include persons with medical conditions that prevent their full COVID-19 vaccination as proven by a duly-signed medical certificate with the name and contact details of their doctor.

Another exemption is those who will buy essential goods and services, such as but not limited to food, water, medicine, medical devices, public utilities, energy, work, and medical and dental necessities, as shown by a duly issued barangay health pass or other proof to justify the travel.

Despite these, Acosta maintained that the policy is unconstitutional.

“That’s unconstitutional because the Bill of Rights, Section 1 states that no person shall be deprived of life, liberty, and property without due process of law,” she said.

“You know you are discriminating against the unvaccinated and then you are just favoring the vaccinated. You let them ride and then the unvaccinated anong gagawin, maglalakad?” she added.

She also cited the patient’s rights in the Department of Health portal. “May karapatan ang pasyente na tumanggi sa bakuna at tumanggi sa ano mang medicine dahil ang katawang ito pagaari mo mismo, hindi pagaari ng gobyerno ang katawan mo,” she said.

(Patients have the right to refuse vaccinees and medicine because they own their bodies, the government does not own their bodies.)

According to the PAO chief, the public has the right to refuse to become an “experimental pig.”

“Dahil inamin ng gobyerno sa batas na ito, nasusulat, state recognizes the experimental nature of COVID vaccine and will compensate serious adverse effects,” she said.

(The government said it recognizes the experimental nature of the vaccine and will compensate serious adverse effects.)

She said authorities should instead explain to the public the benefits of getting vaccinated as well as inform them of the risks.

“Pag magkasakit kayo, sagot kayo ng mayor, wala kayong problema… Ang problema ng tao pangbili ng pagkain, paano pa ‘yung pang pa-ospital. Explain nila ‘yung beauty of the vaccine,” she said.

(If individuals get sick, the local government should pay… the public already has troubling paying for food, what more for hospitalization. They should explain the beauty of the vaccine.)

“Ngayon, kung hindi kumbinsido ang tao pa rin, abay hayaan niyo siya mag desisyon, siya ang mananagot noon,” she added.

(Now, if they are not convinced, they should be allowed to decide.)

Let me end this piece by asking you readers: What is your opinion right now about the No Vax, No Ride policy? If you are still unvaccinated, were you affected negatively by the policy? If you are negatively affected, are you looking for someone to stand up and move forward to challenge the legality of the No Vax, No Ride policy? Did you spot any city government personnel who abused their authorities on the unvaccinated?

You may answer in the comments below. If you prefer to answer privately, you may do so by sending me a direct message online.

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