EDITORIAL - Was Año serious or what?
(The Freeman) - June 3, 2020 - 12:00am

Many areas in the country are now under General Community Quarantine and people who go to work or their business using a motorcycle are back in the streets. However, they aren’t allowed to take on anyone riding pillion; that means only the driver can be on the motorcycle.

Following many complaints regarding this restriction, Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) Secretary Eduardo Año said that motorcycle owners can just attach sidecars to the vehicles to limit the risk of infecting their passengers.

As of this writing yesterday there has been no clarification or follow-up from Año about his statement, so we have to assume he was serious about this statement, as questionable as it may sound.

Why do we say questionable?

First, a motorcycle with a sidecar essentially becomes a tricycle, and by law, specifically Republic Act 4136 or the Land Transportation and Traffic Code, tricycles and pedicabs are banned on national roads.

In case Año forgot, the DILG has also issued various memoranda to this effect. 

“Matagal na nating ipinagbabawal ang mga tricycles at pedicabs sa national highway ngunit ang daming pasaway. Hindi lang ito nakakasagabal sa daan kundi nagiging sanhi ng sakuna sa kalye,” he is quoted by Philstar.com in a report just last February 20.

Second, getting a sidecar means another expense. Many of those people who bought motorcycles did so because they have to have transportation at a moment’s notice but could not afford a car. That means they wanted to save money. And here comes Año’s suggestion that they spend even more, and following a period when many of us didn’t have any income.

It’s probably safe to say many of those who have motorcycles can no longer afford the extra expense of installing sidecars.

Third, and people like to point this out often, what is the sense of prohibiting passengers on a motorcycle if that passenger happens to be the driver’s spouse or domestic partner? There is no sense prohibiting them from traveling together for fear of COVID-19 transmission when at the end of the day they share the same environs and the same bed.

Under certain circumstances, passengers should be allowed on motorcycles. Certainly not the motorcycles for hire. But if people share the same bed, or the same house, there is really no reason to keep them apart when they commute.

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