Motorcycle barriers no longer needed for backriding

Romina Cabrera - The Philippine Star
Motorcycle barriers no longer needed for backriding
DILG spokesperson Undersecretary Jonathan Malaya said that it is still not safe to resume for-hire motorcycle service amid the coronavirus disease 2019 pandemic.
Michael Varcas

MANILA, Philippines — As restrictions ease on motorcycle backriding, the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) reminded the public that the government will still not allow the resumption of motorcycle-taxi services yet.

DILG spokesperson Undersecretary Jonathan Malaya said that it is still not safe to resume for-hire motorcycle service amid the coronavirus disease 2019 pandemic.

“Not yet. We are not yet out of the woods in so far as COVID-19 is concerned,” he said in a text message yesterday.

The national government eased restrictions on motorcycle riding as Metro Manila and neighboring provinces shifted to a more lenient general community quarantine (GCQ).

Couples and partners who reside in the same house are no longer required to install barriers when riding pillion as long as the back rider is an authorized person outside of residence.

When asked why it is only now that the government allowed same-address couples not to use barriers, Malaya said it was the “original intention” of the national task force to transition back to motor-use.

Both driver and passenger must wear face masks and full-face helmets.

Malaya added that the barrier “is still useful,” as it would be required for backriding when an APOR does not live with the rider.

This comes as a lawmaker chided the government that it should acquire the barriers for motorists to recover costs, such as installations and fines, amid the pandemic.

Motorcycle experts have previously thumbed down the barriers, saying the contraption was unnecessary and could cause accidents, but was still pushed through by the national government.

Samar Rep. Mary Edgar Sarmiento, chairman of the House committee on transportation, called on the government to allow ride-hailing firm Angkas to resume operations to provide safe and efficient transport for workers, and help revitalize the economy in the process.

He recommended to the Department of Transportation and the Inter-Agency Task Force on Emerging Infectious Diseases to lift the prevailing ban on the use of motorcycle-hailing services.

“The panel sees the importance of providing accessible public transport now that we are back to general community quarantine and many members of the committee feel that our motorcycle taxis could fill the gap on our transportation vacuum,” he said.

Reps. Precious Hipolito-Castelo (Quezon City), Cristal Bagatsing (Manila) and Julienne Baronda (Iloilo City) also called on the IATF to allow the transport network vehicle service to resume operations.

“As long as we can implement the relevant measures as advised by our partner experts, the motorcycle taxis and tricycles will go a long way towards augmenting our transport capacity, which has become the key bottleneck to reviving our economy,” Castelo stressed.

The Philippine National Police (PNP) yesterday urged motorcyclists to continue using barriers even though these are no longer required of passengers staying in the same house.

PNP deputy chief for operations Lt. Gen. Guillermo Eleazar said motorcycle owners who have already bought the barriers still have the option to use the protective equipment when they would back-ride their spouses, partners and other members of their family who live with them in the same house.– With Edu Punay, Emmanuel Tupas, Delon Porcalla, Christian Imperio

He reminded the public that COVID-19 remains a threat.

“Although it is no longer required, the use of the prescribed barrier is still advised because what we are preventing here is the mass infection within the family,” he said in a statement.

Motorbike barriers

AKO Bicol party-list Rep. Alfredo Garbin Jr. urged the government to acquire the safety barriers that motorcycle riders earlier purchased so they could recover the money better spent on food or medicine.

“Now, what do we do with all those motorcycle barriers which cost hundreds or up to thousands of pesos depending on the design?” Garbin said.

Presidential spokesperson Harry Roque Jr. said that motorcycle barriers are no longer required for those living in the same household in areas under GCQ. – With Edu Punay, Emmanuel Tupas, Delon Porcalla, Christian Imperio

“I hope the national government can acquire all of those contraptions and in exchange they can give the motorcycle riders any of these options depending on what the government can afford,” Garbin said.

The lawmaker suggested that the government could return the money by deducting the amount of the barrier from the fees of vehicle registration, driver’s license application or fines for traffic violation.

Garbin said an alternative is to provide them with equivalent amount of grocery items under the Diskuwento caravan of the Department of Trade and Industry.

The government allowed couples to use motorcycles due to the lack of public transportation provided they would use safety barriers in order to protect them from the virus.

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