7,000 erring motorcycle riders flagged down
At least 6,475 of the violators not only posed as couples but were also caught not using any barriers, according to data from the Joint Task Force (JTF) COVID Shield.
Boy Santos

7,000 erring motorcycle riders flagged down

Neil Jayson Servallos (The Philippine Star) - July 20, 2020 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines - The Philippine National Police (PNP) said yesterday that it has flagged down more than 7,000 motorcycle riders for violating regulations on backriding, particularly the rules for couples and barriers, since the government allowed the transportation mode earlier this month.

Lt. Gen. Guillermo Eleazar, PNP deputy chief for operations, said police around the country have flagged down more than 14,700 motorcycle riders as of Sunday and found that 7,091 or almost half of the total attempted to pass themselves off as married or live-in couples.

At least 6,475 of the violators not only posed as couples but were also caught not using any barriers, according to data from the Joint Task Force (JTF) COVID Shield.

Eleazar, commander of the JTF, said of the 14,700 motorcycles flagged down, 14,156 or 96 percent did not put up barriers while carrying another passenger. This meant that nationwide, more or less only 600 riders have used barriers, he said.

Meanwhile, 7,680 riders who have proven they were couples had no installed barriers.

Eleazar said most of the riders flagged down by police were caught carrying relatives, friends or neighbors.

“For a long time, motorcycle riders had repeatedly requested the government to allow at least their partners to backride with them due to limited public transportation. And now that the government finally granted their request, they openly and brazenly disregarded the rules that the government was asking from them in return to ensure their safety from the coronavirus infection,” Eleazar said in a statement yesterday.

PNP data showed that Central Visayas had the most number of accosted violators with 1,755 unauthorized couples, followed by the Bicol region with 741, Western Visayas with 737, and Central Luzon at 675.

The government allowed couples to ride on motorcycles last July 10, provided they have plastic barriers between them as protection against the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19). Aside from married couples, live-in partners and members of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community are allowed as long as they are living in one house.

“Those who were accosted were either warned or cited for violation. Our personnel on the ground were instructed to make sure that those accosted would comply with the rules set by the NTF against COVID-19,” Eleazar said.

The figures and consultation with stakeholders, according to Eleazar, have prompted the government to extend the grace period for compliance until July 26. This means police will start penalizing violators by July 27, the day President Duterte delivers his State of the Nation Address.

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