The Citizens’ Battle Against Corruption (CIBAC) Party-list asserts the fundamental truth that public restrictions targeting a segment of the population based on their health status and personal conviction is discriminatory and flagrantly intrusive of Filipinos’ basic rights. Thus, CIBAC opposes the No Vax, No Ride scheme enforced by the Department of Transportation for being anti-poor, anti-science, and, ultimately, anti-people.
A broad-sweeping ban against the unvaccinated on the use of public utility vehicles (PUV) renders a huge swath of low-income Filipinos immobile, unable to report to work, and paralyzed from participating in economic activities that support the survival of their families amid the pandemic. The vast majority of PUV users ranges from hardworking middle-class employees to the poorest of the poor of our countrymen. They are hit the hardest by what is effectively a travel ban.
The vaccinated can still carry and transmit the virus. In fact, several studies suggest that natural immunity in unvaccinated individuals who have recovered from Covid may be more robust than vaccine-induced immunity. Giving preferential and deferential treatment to the vaccinated over the unvaccinated bears poor scientific backing. No less than Republic Act 11525 or the Vaccination Program Act of 2021 states that vaccinated individuals shall not be considered immune from COVID-19 unless declared by the government based on reliable scientific evidence and consensus. Until such time when there is conclusive scientific evidence that only unvaccinated individuals can transmit the virus, a sweeping discriminatory policy against them should take the back seat and, in case it will be resorted to, it should be done at the least restrictive means.
In these difficult times, what we need are policies that will unite, not divide, the people toward a safe and healthy return to normalcy. No Vax, No Ride communicates the divisive message that the unvaccinated are somehow less deserving of basic rights freely enjoyed by the vaccinated. This is antithetical to national healing and recovery.
Instead of tyrannically pushing the unvaccinated to a corner, government should instead educate, promote transparency in vaccine information (both risks and benefits), reinforce safety protocols, and demonstrate trustworthiness by honoring the people’s Constitutional freedoms.
The overwhelming majority of our population want to be fully vaccinated. According to the latest survey by the Social Weather Stations (SWS) released this week, only a meager 8% are vaccine-hesitant. In addition, latest data from the Department of Heath show that only around 60 million Filipino were given first (1st) dose of the jab. A fatal combination of poor vaccine supply access and vaccine deployment inefficiency remains to plague government. This should be addressed first.
Ramp up vaccine roll-out and access now. Increase the vaccination rate now. Cater to the 92% who want to be fully vaccinated now.
CIBAC calls on national and local governments to do away with brash crackdowns on the unvaccinated. Divisive measures only foment chaos and stigma. Mocking the people’s God-given rights accomplishes nothing but confirm what many already suspect to be a bigger monster than Covid: the government’s towering ineptitude to defang Covid.