DILG tells Gov Garcia: Retract EO
Caecent No-ot Magsumbol, Mary Ruth R. Malinao (The Freeman) - June 5, 2020 - 12:00am

CEBU, Philippines —  The Department of Interior and Local Government yesterday ordered Governor Gwendolyn Garcia to retract her executive order permitting backriding on private motorcycles in Cebu or risk being held criminally and administratively liable.

The governor, however, is not bent on yielding to the DILG's call.

DILG Undersecretary for Operations Epimaco Densing III said that if Garcia pushes through with her EO No. 19 series of 2020, then the agency will be left without a choice but to issue a show cause order against the governor.

The no backriding policy has earned a barrage of criticisms from various quarters lately, especially since motorcycle, whether private or for hire, is the most prevalent means of transportation in many parts of the country.

“Well, sa atong mga kaigsuonan, pasensya na, pero ang desisyon sa atong IATF again, based on science, is we will not allow any backriders,” Densing said.

Densing said other LGUs in Luzon that issued similar EOs have been also ordered by DILG to retract such provisions as they run counter to the existing IATF guidelines and the Bayanihan Act, which directs that all local EOs and ordinances be aligned with national government and IATF policies.

“We told them to retract that provision of executive orders, otherwise, we will issue them show cause order. And all of them retracted their orders,” he said.

Densing said reports about Garcia’s issuance of EO No. 19, which permits private motorcycle owners to transport a passenger or backrider, has already reached his office.

Even with all restrictions provided under Garcia’s EO, Densing still suggested that such executive order be withdrawn.

“I would suggest and tell the good governor not to implement and (instead) retract the same executive order because if she does not and that will actually happen in Cebu, I have no choice but to send her a show cause order,” he said.

“Otherwise, they can be held criminally and administratively liable. So ayaw mo pag-issue. Bawal na sa atong guidelines,” he added.

‘Scientific’

Invoking science, Densing defended IATF’s decision to disallow backriding.

“There is a science behind it. Maski kamo mag-asawa, we understand, mag-asawa mo, gauban mo. Pero those exceptions sometimes create a lot of problems,” he said, taking note of incidents in Metro Manila where motorcycle riders allegedly plied the streets on the pretext that they were married couples.

“The more exemptions that we allow, the more people will also ask for more exemptions. So there’s a science behind it. There’s a regulation behind it. So karon lang, ayaw sa. Science ang rason ani ug administrative nga dili i-exempt kay daghang mangayog exemptions. So pasaylo lang, this is a rule that we have to implement,” said Densing.

Garcia stands ground

Yet Garcia is unfazed.

In a briefing streamed live on Facebook yesterday, she revealed receiving threat that she and the Provincial Board members who will support the EO will be suspended but she maintained steadfast in her decision to issue the EO, citing two reasons.

For one, she said, Republic Act 4136 or the Land Transportation and Traffic Code does not prohibit the use of private motorcycles to transport passenger who is related to the owner by fourth civil degree of consanguinity or affinity and provided further that there is no fee or charge.

Secondly, Garcia said that there is no existing IATF guideline that bans motorcycle backriding. There is, however, a Land Transportation Office memorandum circular that prohibits the same. But the circular, the governor contended, is in “flagrant violation” of RA 4136, which she said was duly passed by Congress.

“A memo circular cannot supersede a national law. We have to amend the law first. We have to tell the Congress first that we don’t allow backriding. Because as of now, the use of private motorcycles to transport passengers is not prohibited,” she said.

Garcia said her EO has also earned the support of seven district representatives in Cebu.

Today, June 5, the Provincial Board will convene in a special session to tackle the Garcia’s EO signed Wednesday night. Only after the board passes the ordinance supporting the EO will the order start to take effect.

Cebu City’s action

In Cebu City, Mayor Edgardo Labella said he will await the Department of Transportation’s response to the city's appeal to review the no backriding policy. The city, he said, will have to seek reconsideration of the IATF guidelines.

“That's the procedure,” said Labella.

Labella, in a letter dated June 1, asked DOTr anew to reexamine the policy for those using motorcycles and travelling with immediate family members. That was also the day the city transitioned to general community quarantine after two months of being under enhanced community quarantine.

“For many households, motorcycles are their only means of transportation to and from home and work as well as in securing their basic necessities. Many of our constituents feel they are safer in their own motorcycles rather than having to take public transport services, which are currently operating at reduced capacities during the GCQ,” a portion of Labella's letter to DOTr read.

The city has also asked DOTr and the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board to allow public utility jeepneys to resume operations.  JMD (FREEMAN)

DILG GWENDOLYN GARCIA
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