An official of the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) on Friday said he does not see any safety issues arising from putting a physical barrier between a motorcycle rider and the passenger.
“We do not see this as a possible safety concern. They (riders) just need to be careful because even if there are no physical barriers, accidents happen especially when they are riding motorcycles as compared to four-wheel vehicles,” DILG spokesman and Undersecretary Jonathan Malaya said in Filipino in a Laging Handa public briefing.
Malaya said the design was checked by experts and the barrier is part of the design approved by the National Task Force (NTF) against Covid-19 in allowing the motorcycle back-riding for couples nationwide.
On Thursday, Senator Ramon ‘Bong’ Revilla Jr. bucked the measure saying the makeshift barrier between the motorcycle rider and the passenger might affect its balance, thus increasing the chance of accidents.
For now, Malaya said riders of motorcycles without the barrier would be warned but law enforcers would start apprehending violators in the coming days.
Malaya explained that only couples are allowed as it was part of the “baby steps” until the nation gets used to the new normal.
He added that there is a possibility that back-riding for other members of the family will be eventually allowed.
Interior Secretary Eduardo Año announced that back-riding on motorcycles is now allowed among couples and partners with the same residence.
He said the public must follow the proper protocols set by the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-EID).
He also reminded riders and passengers must also wear face masks for their protection.
“Unti-unti ba, hinay-hinay lang… darating din siguro tayo diyan pagka siguro gumaganda na ‘yung numero sa cases natin (Little by little, gradually, that time will come especially if our figures on cases will improve),” he said in a TV interview.
Año said back-riders will be asked to present documents at quarantine control points or to law enforcers as proof that they are indeed a couple.
Meanwhile, Malaya also reminded all police officers that they should also follow to set an example on this new rule of the government.
“When the public sees the law enforcers back-riding and yet utilizing motorcycles without protective barriers, we lose our credibility. So, we wish to remind all men and women of the PNP who are couples to be the first in installing these barriers in their motorcycles as a good example to the public,” he said.
Meanwhile, the Joint Task Force Covid Shield urged motorcycle riders to be courteous to police officers in checkpoints.
Lt. Gen. Guillermo Eleazar, task force commander, said acts of defiance through various alibis would only result in an unnecessary confrontation that would only affect the smooth traffic flow.
“The set of rules for motorcycle back-riding is a balance between safety and the necessity of transportation. Our motorists have long requested for this and now that it was finally granted, please do not abuse it,” Eleazar said in a statement sent to reporters.
Eleazar said that allowing back-riding is both an initial phase of normalizing the transportation in the country amid the coronavirus threat, and a manifestation that the government is listening to the requests and suggestions of the public.
“The NTF Against Covid-19 is always open to any idea that would benefit the Filipino people but it has to factor in the minimum health and safety protocols to prevent the spread of the virus. Let us first follow the rules set for back-riding because in the coming days, there will be more implementation of new policies that would ease the transportation problems and address other concerns of the public,” he added.
He said police officers were also advised to exercise maximum tolerance at all times and respect the rights of the civilians.
“In return, we ask the motorcycle riders to obey the rules and respect the people that enforce these rules,” he said. (PNA)