‘Backriding’ to be allowed
Lorraine L. Ecarma (The Freeman) - June 4, 2020 - 12:00am

CEBU, Philippines —  The Province of Cebu has decided to allow “backriding” on motorcycles to ease the burden of transportation among residents in the province, especially that public transportation is still suspended during general community quarantine.

This was agreed upon in a meeting Wednesday with Governor Gwendolyn Garcia; the League of Municipalities of the Philippines - Cebu Chapter represented by its President, Liloan Mayor Christina Frasco; and mayors of the province's component cities.

Representatives of the Department of Transportation (DOTr)-7, the Land Transportation Office (LTO)-7, the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB)-7 and the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG)-Cebu Province were present during the meeting.

This Friday, June 5, the Provincial Board will convene in a special session to tackle the executive order Garcia signed last night. Only after the Board will pass an ordinance supporting the EO shall the order take effect.

The province’s decision will be subject to existing regulations such as the wearing of helmets, and as long as the ride does not come with a fee. Also, only one person will be allowed to ride with the driver.

"Basta usa lang. Usa lang ang mo-backride," Garcia said.

(As long as only one will ride at the back.)

She said allowing only one passenger per unit would empower local government units to regulate the backriding system.

Under Section 7 of Republic Act 4136, motorcycles can only be classified as private vehicles or government vehicles. Because the law does not say that motorcycles can serve as public vehicles, it is illegal for motorcycle-for-hires or "habal-habal" to operate in the province.

"Atong gi-consider nga habal-habal, di gyud na pwede pa. Kung kahibaw mo nga naa'y reports nga nibayad na siya, wa na mosunod sa balaod," Garcia said.

(Those we consider as habal-habal is not allowed. If you hear reports of anyone paying, that person is not following the law.)

Mayors present in the meeting yesterday lauded Garcia’s decision.

The “no backriding” policy for areas under GCQ is part of the guidelines released by the Department of Transportation (DOTr) last April 30. This, the mayors noted, made public transportation, especially in remote parts of the province, inaccessible to commuters.

"This change in policy offers no alternative as far as our people is considered and it weighs very heavily on the local government units that are expected to absorb the changes in national policy," Frasco said.

As for earlier suggestions to allow backriding only for family members, Talisay City Mayor Gerald Anthony Gullas pointed out this arrangement may just make traffic heavier as movement of vehicles will be stalled at checkpoints.

"Regarding the question ug pwede family members lang, I think LTO, LTFRB or DILG will say na kung mag-checkpoint ta ana, di maghuman," he said.

(On the question if only family members can ride at the back, I think LTO, LTFRB, or DILG will say that checking at checkpoints will be endless.)

"Even though we are cities, even though silingan mi’s Cebu City, the mode of transportation of Talisaynons are so much different than the mode of transportation in Cebu City," he added.

Meanwhile, LTO-7 Director Victor Caindec who was present in the meeting said DOTr maintains the no backride policy.

"The position of the DOTr, to which LTO is an attached agency, has been clearly presented is that the DOTr maintains a no backride policy," he said.

He said they cannot act on the matter unless they receive the final documents from the province.

"Wala pa man nakakita sa signed version sa proposed EO ni Governor Gwen (We have not seen the signed version of the EO signed by Governor Gwen), we have yet to see how the ordinance will also be written… we cannot comment. It is very challenging to make a comment on the approach of the governor until we see it," Caindec said yesterday.  JMO (FREEMAN)

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