The newly approved barrier design for the resumption of pillion riding, which had been banned during the lockdown, is perceived dangerous to the passengers.
In a statement on July 13 on Facebook, Cavite Gov. Jonvic Remulla, who was also often vocal online about his views on government policies, pointed out that the barrier or back shield design which the Department of Interior and Local Government presented to the public was unnecessary and risky for both the passenger and the driver of motorcycles.
GCQ S4 E4. Tulong Dunong. Cavite COVID Tracker as of 7.12:COVID + 890Recovered 332Deaths 51Dear Sec….
Remulla addressed this statement to the Inter-Agency Task Force on Emerging Infectious Diseases, who approved the barrier requirement from Bohol Gov. Arthur Yap.
“Thank you for the new Backride Policy for Couples. Unfortunately, kung sino man ang gumawa ng backshield design instruction ay kailanman hindi sumakay ng motor,” Remulla said.
“It is dangerous, inconvenient and most importantly, it does not make sense!” he added.
Remulla also argued that the minimum health protocols from the Department of Health such as wearing face masks and other safety gear such as helmets should be enough.
“Wasn’t it based on the point that couples who live in 1 house makes transmission less possible? Sana sapat na ang naka-jacket, face mask, helmet, at couples pass mula sa barangay,” he said.
This was the same sentiment echoed by Filipinos on social media. While they were thankful for finally allowing backriding as a mode of transportation, the required tall divider was perceived ineffective.
Some also similarly argued that riders and drivers should just be required to wear overall protective clothing instead of the back shield.
Last May, Remulla asked the higher officials to allow couples to ride together amid the lack of mass transport.
The DILG only allowed motorcycle backriding last Friday in areas under modified general community quarantine and general community quarantine, which are the most relaxed phases of quarantine.
This is also only limited to couples “living in the same household, whether they are married or they are common-law husband and wife or boyfriend and girlfriend.”
Why is it considered not safe?
Last July 9, the DILG released photos of the prototype model that officials will soon implement to all motorcycle riders nationwide. This design was submitted by Yap.
Based on the photos, the protective shield comprises a tall metal divider with a screen in front and handles situated between the rider and the pillion.
However, given the structure of a motorcycle, the barrier seemed to pose safety risks to both riders.
LOOK: @DILGPhilippines Secretary Eduardo Año says the prototype barrier between the #motorcycle driver and passengers have been approved. He said backriding, however, are allowed only for husbands and wives, common law couples, and live-in partners. | via @LloydCaliwan pic.twitter.com/KvcmX2rJsr
— Phil News Agency (@pnagovph) July 13, 2020
During the virtual press briefing on Friday, which was also the first day of implementation, DILG Undersecretary Jonathan Malaya explained that the protective shield depends on the specifications of the motorcycle unit.
“Adjustable po iyon depending on the height and the width of the motorcycle kasi batid naman po natin na iba-iba ang sizes ng ating mga motorsiklo. Mayroon din pong specifications iyon in so far as the sizes are concerned but as I said, puwede ito pong i-adjust,” Malaya said.
He also expressed confidence in terms of safety concerns because putting up a physical barrier was deemed safe by experts and was approved by the Land Transportation Office.
“Kailangan lang po talagang maging maingat kasi kahit po walang physical barrier ay mayroon po talagang nangyayaring aksidente kapag tayo ay nakamotor ‘no as compared to, kung ang gamit natin ay 4-wheel. So kailangan lang po magdoble ingat ang ating mga kababayan kapag sila ay gumagamit ng motorsiklo,” he said.
Motorcycle backriding policy
Malaya added that while the National Task Force chose this among other candidates submitted to them, other companies with similar schemes may still submit for assessment.
DILG said that the leeway for violators of the policy was limited during the first day of implementation
This means that starting Monday, July 13 and on the succeeding days, those who failed to observe the couple-only backriding policy will be arrested.
Joint Task Force COVID Shield PLt. Gen. Guillermo Eleazar said that offenders could be charged with violating provisions of the Mandatory Reporting of Notifiable Diseases and Health Events of Public Health Concern Act.
Aside from placing the protective metal barrier, other requirements are marriage certificates or a barangay-issued document that both riders share the same address.