TRANSPORTATION Secretary Arthur P. Tugade has clarified that they are not discriminating unvaccinated individuals but protecting them from Covid-19.

Tugade issued the statement after howls of objection were hurled against the “no vaccination, no ride” policy of the Department of Transportation (DOTr).

The DOTr chief said the guideline was made to protect all — whether vaccinated or unvaccinated individuals.

He added the policy will safeguard those that are most at risk, the healthcare system, and the exhausted medical workers amid the recent surge of Covid-19 cases recorded in the country.

"The policy is for the benefit of the majority and the common good. Hence, we apologize for any inconvenience this may cause the riding public. It is important to note that the policy only takes effect while Alert Level 3 (or higher) is implemented to stem the surging cases of Covid-19, particularly with the spread of the highly infectious Omicron variant," Tugade said.

Severe Covid-19 infections caused by non-vaccination result in overwhelming cases of hospitalization, according to the official.

The World Health Organization (WHO) has been very clear, while Omicron causes less severe disease than Delta, it remains a dangerous virus, particularly for those who are unvaccinated," Tugade said.

"We want to prevent another public transport shutdown. We are doing everything we can to maintain and keep our public transport operations safe and running. It will be a much heavier burden for commuters if we experience a repeat of public transport closures," he added.

He also responded to those saying that the “no vaccination, no ride/entry” policy in public transport is anti-poor, draconian or punitive.

"We believe that it is more anti-poor and anti-life if we do not impose interventions that will prevent loss of life due to non-vaccinations. We do not discriminate against the unvaccinated, but we are protecting them," he said.

Tugade said there is no directive to prohibit travel. Unvaccinated individuals are allowed to travel by using other means aside from public transport, he added.