Group will file TRO vs ‘no vaxx, no ride’ policy, says Sotto

MANILA, Philippines — A group is set to file a temporary restraining order (TRO) against the government’s “no vaccination, no travel” policy, Senate President Vicente “Tito” Sotto III said Tuesday.

The new policy, which took effect on Monday, prohibits people who are not yet fully vaccinated against COVID-19 from using public transport.

“I know a group that is asking for a TRO,” Sotto, who is running for vice president in May, said in a text message.

He didn’t provide any additional details, except that the TRO would be filed soon.

The leader of the Senate himself rejected the new policy implemented by the Department of Transportation intended to curb the spread of SARS-CoV-2, which causes COVID-19.

“There should be no discrimination among the equestrian public. Instead of banning them from taking public transportation, the DOTr should come up with brighter ideas on how to protect the unvaccinated from the deadly virus,” Sotto said earlier in a statement.

Designated coaches on trains or buses, he said, can be provided for passengers who have not been vaccinated against COVID-19.

“There are many options, but destabilizing our people’s means of transport should not be the only option. Think. To explore. There are many other ways to fight the pandemic,” Sotto further emphasized.

Other senators also opposed the controversial policy.

While acknowledging its good intentions, Senator Risa Hontiveros said the policy also had “unintended consequences”.

“Unang-una, ilalim ng kasalukuyang batas, hindi naman compulsory requirement of vaccination card for education, employment for government transaction,” Hontiveros said in a statement.

(First, having a vaccination card for education, employment, and government transaction purposes is not a mandatory requirement under our current law).

“Public transport is an essential service, even if it is not possible. Even though in Hindi there is no mandatory use authorization of Emergency Use Authorization (Emergency Use Authorization) for Emergency Use Authorization and during clinical trials,” she added.

(Public transport is an essential service, so we must not deny our passengers their right to use it. At this time, vaccination cannot be made compulsory as it has only been granted in EUA and the clinical trials not yet completed)

The senator said the policy is also unclear, which can be open to abuse as there are different interpretations on how it should be implemented.

And since there is no unified vaccination card yet, it would also be an additional burden for operators and drivers to check whether their passengers are fully vaccinated or not, Hontiveros said.

Instead of enforcing any form of lockdown like the ‘no vaccination, no travel’ policy, the senator reiterated the need to strengthen contact tracing and government vaccination efforts.

READ: Pangilinan calls on government to scrap ‘no vax, no ride’ rule; Lacson requires further study

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