BOARDING PASS A staff of the Inter-Agency Council for Traffic ensures that only passengers who present valid vaccination and identification cards are allowed to board buses at Edsa Bus Carousel station on Main Avenue, Quezon City, as the government implements the “no vaccination, no ride” policy in Metro Manila’s public transportation on Monday. —NIÑO JESUS ORBETA
MANILA, Philippines — The woman who went viral online for criticizing the government’s “no vaccine, no ride” rule was in tears early Friday as she apologized for her outburst while maintaining her call for President Rodrigo Duterte to stop the policy’s implementation.
Gemma Parina issued the apology after a video showing her slamming the “no vaccine, no ride” policy made rounds on social media. In the video, Parina urged candidates in the 2022 elections to challenge the policy, adding that the unvaccinated also have rights.
She added that the government should focus on addressing poverty in the country instead of stealing public funds.
In a separate video posted on Facebook early Friday, Parina apologized for the viral video, saying her outburst was triggered by her frustration to pay her piling bills amid the pandemic.
She explained that she went to the public market to buy food for her family but was barred from using public transport because of the “no vaccine, no ride” policy being enforced.
“Ngayon ay taos puso akong humihingi ng apology sa lahat ng nabanggit ko dala ng sama ng loob at galit na rin dahil sa sobrang kahirapan na nangyari sa amin ngayon dulot ng krisis at dulot ng COVID,” Parina said.
(From the bottom of my heart, I apologize for what I said. It was brought by my frustration because of the hardships amid the pandemic.)
“Mula nung pandemic, talagang hindi na nawala ang mga utang ko sa Meralco at bills, hanggang ngayon ay binabayaran ko pa rin yun. Ngayon ako ay taos pusong humihingi ng kapatawaran sa lahat ng nabanggit ko,” she added.
(Since the pandemic began, my debts including for Meralco and other bills kept piling up. I am still paying for them until now. I apologize from the bottom of my heart for what I said.)
According to Parina, her outburst was also due to the plight of vendors like her whose source of income are repeatedly confiscated by authorities.
“Dala lang po yun ng bugso ng damdamin ko at galit dahil sa sobrang hirap ng dinadanas namin. Kaming mga mahihirap, vendors, kahit anong hanapbuhay namin sa kalsada, nandyan na yung makipagsapalaran ka, hinuhuli ka, tapos kinikumpiska ang paninda mo, wala nang balikan,” Parina said.
(It was a rush of emotions including anger due to our experiences. No matter how hard we work, us poor vendors take a chance but we are raided and our products are confiscated and never returned.)
“Kaya kanına, kung nagpunta ako sa palengke, ayaw na naman ako pasakayin, ayaw akong papasukin, parang ang liit ng mundo ko,” she added.
(That’s why when I went to the market and I was denied of public transport, it seemed like my world had shrunk.)
Parina also called on Duterte to stop the policy, saying some unvaccinated individuals like her refuse to get inoculated because of their weak immune system.
“Ako rin po Pangulong Duterte, talagang nung unang umupo kayo, idolong-idolo ko po kayo, kaya lang Pangulo, nawalan ako nung [interes] nung pinatupad mo yung no vaccine, no ride, parang sumama na rin ang loob ko. Paano po ako makapaghanapbuhay kung yun ang ipapatupad niyo?” Decin said.
(I was a fan of you, President Duterte, when you first sat in power. But I lost interest when you implemented the no vaccine, no ride policy. I got mad. How can we work if you will implement that?)
“Sana po Pangulo, wag nyo na lang ipipilit ang no vaccine no ride kasi paano po kami na wala kaming vaccine? Sa katulad ko po, napakahina ng immune system ko, marami akong sakit, pano po ako makapag-vaccine?” she added.
(President Duterte, I hope you don’t force the no vaccine, no ride policy because how about those who are not vaccinated? For me whose immune system is weak, how can we get the vaccine?)
Duterte earlier ordered barangay (village) leaders to “restrain” unvaccinated people from going out of their houses. Following this directive, the Department of Transportation issued a department order that only fully vaccinated commuters may ride public transportation in Metro Manila.
Commuters with medical conditions preventing them from getting the COVID-19 vaccine; those getting or delivering essential goods and services; and, those headed to inoculation sites to get vaccinated are exempt from the order. Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III also clarified that workers with proper identification are also exempt from the policy.
Health experts have stressed that while breakthrough infections may happen among the vaccinated, vaccines continue to provide protection against severe COVID-19 and hospitalization.
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