(Updated 7:36 p.m.) The national government finally allowed backriding or pillion riding for couples starting this Friday, July 10.
The Inter-Agency Task Force on Emerging Infectious Diseases previously prohibited backriding in motorcycles as part of its strict measures to help slow down COVID-19 transmissions when most areas in the country was still covered by the enhanced community quarantine and the modified ECQ version.
Police immediately slapped hefty fines to those who were caught backriding, including health personnel who needed to get to work amid the lack of mass transport.
In a radio interview, Interior and Local Government Secretary Eduardo Año announced that backriding will soon be implemented in areas under modified general community quarantine and general community quarantine, which are the most relaxed phases of quarantine.
However, this will only be limited to couples “living in the same household, whether they are married or they are common-law husband and wife or boyfriend and girlfriend.”
“Yes, simula bukas ay papayagan na natin yung back-riding para sa mga couple. At the same time, kailangan mag-wear pa rin ng mask at saka ng crash helmet ‘yung ating passenger at rider,” he said.
To show proof of being a couple, Año said that they should present identification cards wherein they either have the same last names or the same address.
Relatives or family members who live in same household also bear the same contact details but are not covered by this new directive.
During the regular Laging Handa virtual press briefing, presidential spokesperson Harry Roque explained that they only allowed married couples for now because they thought that was the public demand when mass transport was suspended.
Last May, Cavite Gov. Jonvic Remulla was the one who appealed to allow couples to ride together in a motorcycle after the province transitioned to GCQ and public transportation had been partially resumed. The request, however, was then denied.
Aside from IDs which Año mentioned, Roque said that married couples may need to bring their marriage certificates as well should they be flagged.
This decision was largely welcomed by Filipinos online and noted the sacrifices they had to endure to get to work before.
Others hoped that the IATF will also allow any member of the household to back ride to get to their respective workplaces.
No choice but to back-ride during ECQ
Due to the lack of mass transportation during the ECQ period, some health workers and other frontliners, who works in “essential” industries resorted to riding motorcycles by two’s amid the backriding ban.
Some uniformed officers were also caught backriding to get to their stations because of the transport shutdown.
Vice President Leni Robredo through her Angat Buhay program, and some civic groups, concerned individuals, took the initiative to provide free rides to them via carpooling given that private vehicles were allowed.
It was only later that some local government units in Metro Manila such as the cities of Pasig and Makati, and the Department of Transportation offered free transportation services to them.
Last June, Roque stressed that those who continued to defy the “no back-ride” policy and the local officials who allowed this in their jurisdictions should be arrested.
“So mayors, be careful because the Department of the Interior and Local Government has supervision over you. Do not go against the no back ride policy,” Roque said back then.
Año also said the National Task Force approved a “prototype model” submitted by Bohol Gov. Arthur Yap.
He explained that the approved design or model for backriding comprises a barrier between the rider and the passenger. This barrier is supposed to be taller than their heads to prevent even saliva transmissions. It also has handles attached to its poles.
Año said that the agency still welcomes those who have proposed designs for backriding barriers.
EDSA traffic chief Edison Nebrija shared a potential design of motorcycle with barrier.