‘CASE-BY-CASE BASIS’: Vaccination edict applicable only to Alert Level 3 or higher – main sponsor

Iloilo City Councilor Rommel Duron

By Joseph B.A. Marzan

The main sponsor of the regulation ordinance which would limit the mobility of persons who are not fully vaccinated against the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) in Iloilo City said the policy will only apply if the city is placed under Alert Level 3 or higher.

City Councilor Rommel Duron made the clarification in an interview with Aksyon Radyo Iloilo on Wednesday.

Duron referred to the city government’s 2021 COVID-19 statistics, which indicated that out of 444 deaths, 386 were unvaccinated persons.

He also pointed to the fact that COVID cases under serious hospitalization are unvaccinated.

The councilor cited gun shootouts to further explain the nature of the ordinance.

“Like when there is a shoot-out outside, [unvaccinated and partially-vaccinated] people shouldn’t be going out because they may get caught in the line of fire, and they may seriously get injured or even die. In the statistics of those hospitalized right now, many of them are unvaccinated. The goal of this is to protect everyone, especially the unvaccinated,” Duron said.

Duron also defended the effectiveness of the ordinance if the city would slide to lower alert levels, saying that it would also be in preparation if alert level status escalates.

“We have to specify that [the ordinance] is only applicable to Alert Levels 3 and 4, meaning it would only be applicable in times of [serious] emergency, which we are in. If there were no emergencies, we wouldn’t have to implement that. Just like every time there is a calamity, there would be law that doesn’t need to be passed again, you just have to implement it,” he said.

As to the applicability of the ordinance to public transport, Duron, who also chairs the city council’s transportation committee, said the matter would best be left to the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB).

The LTFRB’s parent agency, the Department of Transportation (DOTr), has already issued a memorandum order earlier this month barring partially vaccinated and unvaccinated persons from public transport.

“[The ordinance] applies in all cases, but my concern is the manner of implementation in public transport, especially in jeepneys. This should already be under the LTFRB on how to implement it without burdening the driver. Passengers keep coming in and out, and the driver might be in physical danger in determining the vaccinated,” he said.

Duron also mentioned the possibility of fake vaccination cards, saying that the city council may also come up with a future ordinance penalizing the sale and use of these counterfeit cards.

“Another concern that we have is the possibility of fake [vaccination cards] being submitted, so how will the driver determine? That would already be in the implementation stage. For now, we can only limit within the ordinance that we just passed, but later on, we may pass another ordinance penalizing fake vaccination cards,” he said.

The city council unanimously approved the ordinance on Tuesday, even after various groups had lodged their opposition with the Sanggunian during a public hearing last week.

It was authored by the City Mayor’s Office and endorsed to the city council by Iloilo City Mayor Jerry Treñas.

According to the ordinance’s text, it would become effective 15 days after its publication in a newspaper of general circulation.