‘Wala na tayong human rights?’: A vendor rants vs ‘no vax, no ride’ policy, overall gov’t failures

January 21, 2022 - 2:22 PM
Passengers of a jeepney in Quezon City show their vaccination cards to a barker. (PNA photo by Robert Oswald P. Alfiler)

A non-vaccinated vendor expressed her outrage against the government’s “no vaccine, no ride” policy in a now-viral video interview.

The vendor identified as Gemma Parina also made remarks against the government that resonated across some social media users.

Under the new policy, commuters in Metro Manila would have to be fully vaccinated to be able to travel using public transportation. Commuters are required to present their vaccination cards or certificates to be allowed to board modes of public transport.

Its implementation started last January 17. It takes effect while the region is still under COVID-19 Alert Level 3 or higher.

RELATED: ‘Nasaan ang malasakit?’: ‘No vax, no ride’ policy seen illogical, anti-commuter 

The vendor’s outrage

In an interview with Radyo Inquirer last January 20, Parina said she had not been vaccinated yet due to her health condition.

She pointed out that the government will not pay for bills if something happened to her after.

“May sakit ako sa puso e. May high blood ako. May diabetes ako. Ngayon ‘pag magpapavaccine ako ngayon din sa harap ni Duterte, kung namatay ako, sasagutin niya,” Parina said.

“Yung namamatay ba sa vaccine na ‘yan, nasagot niya, wala, nganga,” she added.

Because she was not vaccinated, she was forced to walk from her house to the marketplace.

Parina then described the new protocol as a form of “harassment” against the poor.

“Alam mo ang ikaso ko sa kanila? Harassment. Ano, wala na tayong human rights? Dapat lahat ng Pilipino magkaisa may vaccine man o wala, kasi g*nag*g* na tayo ng gobyernong ‘yan eh,” she said.

Parina, however, was among the individuals who refused to believe that COVID-19 exists and vaccines are able to prevent it.

She claimed that COVID-19 and its variants were merely part of the government’s scheme to steal from Filipinos.

Her rant then took a turn and involved the government’s overall pandemic response and other policies. She addressed the social amelioration program, Meralco’s rising bills despite the crisis and loans from China in the interview.

She also slammed embattled Health Secretary Francisco Duque III over alleged incompetence and corruption.

“Harapin nila yung paghihirap ng bansa, hindi yung puro pangungurakot sila. Binoto namin sila para iahon kami sa kahirapan hindi para umupo sila para at mangurakot. Kaya pahirap na pahirap ang buhay natin e. Yung mga nakaupo na yan wala ng inisip kundi ang sarili nila at ang bulsa nila,” Parina said.

How social media reacted

The video interview immediately took off across Facebook, Twitter and Reddit.

Social media users disagreed with Parina’s denialist views on COVID-19 and the ongoing crisis.

Still, they cheered for her after she managed to sum up the government’s gaps in handling the pandemic.

“Ang daming sinabing magaganda at matatalas si ate, from criticizing the failed, anti-poor pandemic response, to the mockery of SAP, to Meralco greedily raising electricity rates, to Duterte’s theft and loans from China,” said activist Rey Valmores-Salinas.

“Ito yung napick-up ko: Yung vaccine hesitancy ni Ate Gemma ay nanggagaling primarily sa distrust niya sa state and political structures sa lipunan,” screenwriter Hyro P. Aguinaldo said.

Philip Jamilla of Karapatan perceived that Parina’s anger reflected the sentiments of ordinary Filipinos on the constantly changing guidelines and policies.

“A lot to unpack here, but this is clear: the people are rightfully angry at the government’s failed pandemic response, and punitive policies on the unvaccinated only alienate them—which is also an indictment of the government’s failed pandemic response,” Jamilla said.

A Reddit user, meanwhile, pointed out that the government should bring back the public’s trust in the health system to resolve vaccine hesitancy.

“The only way para mawala yung takot at agam-agam ng mga unvaccinated is, if and when the government will remove the stupid waiver and replace it with something like, if and when the vaccine has a negative reaction to a person’s health, the government will take full responsibility for it,” the user said.