Government clarifies exemptions to “no vax, no ride” policy after receiving widespread criticism

In this January 19, 2022 article for Manila Bulletin, Alexandria Dennise San Juan reports on the recent statement of Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) Secretary Silvestre Bello III clarifying exemptions to the “no vax, no ride” policy implemented in the National Capital Region starting January 17.

Bello said, “I think there is a reason for us to apologize to the public for that because, as I was saying to [Cabinet Secretary] Karlo Nograles, kailangan pa natin ng (we need) a massive information drive about this policy”. He adds, “Very clear po na ang (It is very clear that the) ‘No vax, no ride’ policy does not apply to workers. Kapag ikaw ay (If you are a) worker, you cannot be prevented from riding public transport.”

Other individuals exempted from this policy include individuals who have a medical condition that prevents them from taking the vaccine, those who have received their first those, or unvaccinated individuals who need to get a check-up, are purchasing food and other supplies for their families, or are applying for license or passport.

Editor’s Note: See how this clarification came two days after the “no vax, no ride” policy was already in effect? Why didn’t the government make these clarifications the day after the first day, when these issues started surfacing?

The answer we think is this: they were gauging citizen sentiment. When they saw how angry citizens are becoming, and how many high-profile politicians are speaking up against the policy, they started backtracking their statements because they wanted to escape the backlash for their decisions.

This is the power of citizen outcry. When we speak up to communicate our sentiments to the government, the government is forced to listen. We must always remember that our government is a democracy. Our right to free movement cannot be taken away from us arbitrarily. The government may have power over its citizens, but this power is not limitless. They are bound by the Constitution and by-laws. They cannot overstep their authority if we know what our rights are as citizens.

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