LGUs renew calls to allow backriders on motorcycles
Caecent No-ot Magsumbol (The Freeman) - May 23, 2020 - 12:00am

CEBU, Philippines — At least three local government officials in Cebu are asking the national government to allow backriding on motorcycles amid the limited public transportation in areas under the general community quarantine.

Talisay City Mayor Gerald Anthony Gullas along with Carcar City Vice Mayor Nicepuro Apura and Consolacion Mayor Joannes Alegado have renewed calls for the Department of Transportation (DOTr) to lift the prohibition of backriders on motorcycles.

According to the three local officials, motorcycles remain the most convenient mode of transportation in their respective locality. They aired their common sentiment during last Thursday Mugstoria Ta, a Facebook show hosted by the Office of the Presidential Assistant for the Visayas.

Gullas has been consistent of his stand from the start of the community quarantine to allow backriding  on motorcycles for couples and family members.

“Ako lang unta nga mapadayon na nga pwede mag-angkas kay mao na ang main transportation sa city (Talisay) especially for family members,” Gullas said.

Apura echoed Gullas’ plea and assured that measures will be implemented to prevent traffic congestion at the border checkpoints. Apura said that allowing backriders on motorcycles would address the shortage of public transportation during this time of pandemic.

Alegado also prefers motorcycle taxis or “habalhabal” over four-wheeled vehicles where social distancing is often not observed. Alegado explained that motorcycle drivers could wear masks and use alcohol to prevent the spread of the COVID-19 virus.

Earlier, the Cebu City government also requested the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board in Central Visayas to require public transportation, including habalhabal, operating in the city to install barriers or plastic shields.

Based on Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF) and DOTr’s omnibus public transport protocols/guidelines during the GCQ, motorcycle taxis are still not allowed.

“The operations of motorcycle (MC) taxi shall remain prohibited until the enactment of an enabling law. This is also to avoid virus transmission via the sharing of helmets and close physical contact between driver and passenger”.

Councilor Jerry Guardo, who sponsored the resolution, is hopeful that the LTFRB-7 will consider the request.

A similar request was also made earlier by Lapu-Lapu City Mayor Junard Chan.

Chan, for his part, stated that motorcycles at the time of GCQ shall be used to transport a family member to and from its workplace only and that they need to show proof of relationship either consanguinity or affinity, and has to secure a special permit from the LGU.

“It is my opinion that motorcycle driver and backrider, who are related to each other, can both undertake stringent precautionary measures to prevent the spread of Covid-19, and at the same time, ensure the safety and well-being of the back rider on his/her way to the workplace,” Chan sad.

Chan, however, supports the prohibition of the operation of habalhabal during the GCQ.

Other areas in the Visayas have also expressed similar concerns on the issue.

Assistant Secretary Anthony Gerard Gonzales of the OPAV told The Freeman that they will bring this matter before the DOTr once they are done collating the concerns and suggestions of the other LGUs in the Visayas.

Gonzales said that several LGUs outside Cebu have also expressed the same concern.  FPL (FREEMAN)

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