Rodrigo Duterte’s “no vax, no ride,” the latest policy to halt the rapid transmission of the coronavirus, is a stupid idea.

There is actually no legal basis to implement the policy and it contradicts the law, Republic Act 11525, which was passed by the two houses of Congress in February 2021.

Under Section 12 of the law establishing the Covid-19 vaccination program, vaccination cards are not considered an additional mandatory requirement for educational, employment, and other similar government transactions.

The vaccination cards are not passports to get the holders access to public transport, shopping malls, business shops, and government officers.

In the last several days, security guards at banks, shopping malls, and even at city halls have demanded people to show vaccination cards in addition to filling out health declaration forms or showing QR codes.

Police even dragged people out of jeepneys and buses even if they showed they were partially vaccinated because the transportation department ordered law enforcement agents to strictly implement the “no vax, no ride” policy. Only fully vaccinated people are allowed to travel.

A day after the policy was enforced, the Department of Labor and Employment came out with an exemption list, which only muddled up the process.

There was a lot of confusion because drivers and law enforcers were not competent enough to distinguish a commuter allowed to travel because of the exemption from those restricted to move around.

The “no vax, no ride” policy is difficult to enforce with so many confusing exemptions. People who are buying essentials, like food, water, and medicines, are exempted from the travel restrictions. The exemption covers almost everyone because they have to eat, drink, and take medicines.

There are non-essential workers, like those working in gyms and salons, but they could still travel in public transport if they say they are getting essential goods.

Even the unjabbed can reason out they are taking a jeepney or a bus to go to a vaccination site or they can show a medical certificate that they have a condition that prevents them from getting inoculated.

These medical certificates can be faked. The cards themselves issued by the local governments can be forged because there are no uniform or universal vaccination cards.

The Department of Health is also slow in encoding vaccination data and has yet to come up with a single card design that conforms with international standards.

Some foreign governments do not trust the vaccination cards from the Philippines because these can be easily and illegally manufactured.

When the “no vax, no ride” policy took effect, the police were only checking people on jeepneys, buses, and commuter trains. The checkpoints allowed those on bikes, motorcycles, taxis, and private vehicles to pass. There is no way for the government to check if these people are vaccinated or not.

The government may argue that eight in 10 people in Metro Manila rely on public transport, but it cannot totally screen all the people moving around, particularly those who take “Grab” services.

It seems there was no lengthy discussion in the Cabinet about the “no vax, no ride” policy after Duterte threatened to restrict movements of the unjabbed in one of his late night “Talk to the People” episodes.

The policy was obviously a knee-jerk reaction from Secretary Arthur Tugade who did not consult the labor, health, justice, and the interior departments on how the “no vax, no ride” mandate should be carried out.

Gwendolyn Garcia, the maverick governor of Cebu, refused to abide by the mandate, saying it was an anti-poor policy. If the policy cannot be enforced nationwide, there must be something wrong in Duterte’s government.

The governor is right. The policy is unfair, absurd, and unlawful. It is anti-poor and very discriminatory. It puts a heavy burden on people who have to take public transport to work in factories and workers in the micro, small, and medium enterprises which are still recovering from the pandemic lockdowns.

Preventing waiters, cooks, sales ladies, bank tellers, and even lowly state workers from going to work because they are not vaccinated could slow down the economy’s recovery.

The government no longer has the resources to hand over P4,000 to P8,000 per family to keep them at their homes, a situation in the early months of the outbreak in 2020.

The government could enforce a “no vax, no ride” policy if almost all of the adult population have been inoculated.

The Philippines has vaccinated less than 60 percent of the population. The vaccines were not evenly distributed, with more than 80 percent going to Metro Manila.

The government has projected that the number of people vaccinated could rise to about 77 million by the end of March and about 90 million by the end of June. The country could probably reach a 100-percent vaccination rate by the end of the year.

It would be unfair to demand vaccination cards if the government still cannot make the vaccines available to everyone. Vaccination hesitancy has gone down and more people are willing to get the jabs because they are scared of landing in a hospital if they contract the virus.

It has been two years since the coronavirus outbreak and the Duterte government continues to do a trial-and-error approach in responding to the pandemic. It has borrowed trillions of pesos from multilateral lending institutions but it has not learned its lesson.

The “no vax, no ride” policy will not work. The government should reconsider it. It’s a bad idea, a very stupid idea.