The impending prohibition of unvaccinated individuals from public transport assaults the people’s fundamental rights, the government’s human rights agency said.
Commission on Human Rights (CHR) spokesperson Atty. Jacqueline Ann de Guia said in a statement that the plan by the Department of Transportation (DoTr) to ban unvaccinated persons from taking public transport is in danger of being sweeping and overly broad.
“CHR fears that, while there is no direct prohibition on the right to travel with the ‘no vaccine, no ride’ policy in public transport for the unvaccinated, this policy effectively restricts the exercise and enjoyment of fundamental rights,” de Guia said.
DoTr Undersecretary Artemio Tuazon Jr. announced Wednesday that the agency orders that only fully vaccinated individuals, with some exceptions, will be allowed to take public transportation beginning January 17, Monday.
DoTr’s Department Order No. 2022 – 001 shall cover public transportation for individuals who reside, work and travel to and from the National Capital Region, Tuazon said.
Persons with medical conditions that prevent full Covid-19 vaccination shall be asked to present a medical certificate while other unvaccinated individuals out to buy essential goods and services such as food, water, and medicine shall be asked to present barangay health passes or other proofs before boarding public transport, the DoTr said.
The CHR however expressed fear that even with such exemptions, persons may be restricted in accessing essential goods and services for having no or limited access to private vehicles.
The human rights commission explained that ordinary Filipinos continue to rely on public transportation in attaining basic needs, such as for food, work, and accessing health services, including unvaccinated individuals.
“It is not sufficient that the restrictions serve the permissible purposes; they must also be necessary to protect them. Restrictive measures must conform to the principle of proportionality; they must be appropriate to achieve their protective function; they must be the least intrusive instrument amongst those which might achieve the desired result; and they must be proportionate to the interest to be protected,” the CHR said.
In a radio interview Wednesday, a leader of one of the country’s biggest transport groups also opposed the measure, saying public transport were not consulted before DoTr issued the measure.
Pinagkaisang Samahan ng mga Tsuper at Opereytor Nationwide chairperson Mody Florida told DZRH that jeepney drivers will find it very difficult to check each and every passenger’s eligibility to take public transport. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)