âBarriers for back-riding couples useless, more dangerousâ
Placing a divider between back-riding couples is not only useless and impractical but also poses great danger to the motorcycle riders as well as other motorists and pedestrians, according to the neophyte lawmaker.
Boy Santos
‘Barriers for back-riding couples useless, more dangerous’
Delon Porcalla (The Philippine Star) - July 13, 2020 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — While the Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF) on Emerging Infectious Diseases may be lauded for finally allowing back-riding for couples on motorcycles, an administration lawmaker finds an additional requirement “useless and more dangerous.”

“I just hope that the task force will just forgo its shield requirement. I don’t see any reason why a divider or a shield for couples who eat, sleep and even take a bath together would be required to comply with such,” Ang Probinsiyano party-list Rep. Ronnie Ong maintained. “It just exposes them to more danger in the streets because of that shield.”

Placing a divider between back-riding couples is not only useless and impractical but also poses great danger to the motorcycle riders as well as other motorists and pedestrians, according to the neophyte lawmaker.

At the same time, Ong also revealed that this added requirement “is now the subject of complaints among riders as it has become a convenient tool for extortion by corrupt traffic enforcers.”

“Nagkalat na ang mga post sa Facebook ng mga reklamo dahil sa ginagawang mga pangongotong ng mga traffic enforcers natin (Facebook posts on complaints regarding extortion by traffic enforcers have become widespread),” he said.

Instead of a physical divider or a shield being installed on motorcycles, Ong suggested that riders just be required to wear full-face helmets, face masks, long-sleeve shirts or jackets, long pants, gloves and closed shoes.

He also expressed hope that this policy will be extended to other family members as long as they have proof that they live together and comply with other health protocols, which would greatly reduce the number of commuters who are always stranded.

The party-list representative argued that although it takes extra effort for checkpoint personnel to verify the relationship of all motorcycle riders riding pillion, the IATF should also consider the sacrifices and hardships that the public is going through because of inadequate public transport.

Ong said many Filipinos are now relying on bicycles and motorcycles in their daily commute because of the limited number and reduced passenger capacity of public transportation due to health and social distancing protocols.

“Allowing motorcycle riders to ferry their family members is actually safer than compelling them to take public transportation along with complete strangers who are all potential coronavirus carriers,” he said.

He added that it is also easier to conduct contact-tracing if a rider or passenger is infected with the virus because of limited human interaction compared with people who take other forms of public transportation.

He urged motorcycle riders, however, to be more responsible by fully complying with the requirement set by the IATF as he warned against habal-habal operators who would take advantage of this new policy.

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