MANILA – Over 7,000 motorcycle riders across the country have been given warnings since the government allowed pillion riding only for married couples or live-in partners on July 10, the Joint Task Force Covid Shield (JTF Covid)) revealed on Sunday.
Police Lt. Gen. Guillermo Lorenzo Eleazar, JTF Covid shield commander, said the 7,091 violators recorded as of July 18 showed government’s resolve to implement the two rules for back riding — that there must be installed barriers that pass the safety standard of the National Task Force (NTF) for Covid-19 and the riders must be married or living-in couples.
“For a long time, motorcycle riders had repeatedly requested the government to allow at least their partners to back-ride with them due to limited public transportation. And now that the government finally granted their request, they openly and brazenly disregarded the rules that the government was asking from them in return to ensure their safety from coronavirus infection,” Eleazar said in a statement.
He said most of the violators were caught back-riding with other relatives, friends, neighbors and other people which is in violation of the NTF for Covid-19 guidelines that the pillion riding is exclusive for married and living-in couples.
Eleazar said of the 7,091 accosted violators, 6,476 were not only couples but also with no installed barriers while 615 riders have barriers but were not couple or live-in partners.
Police Regional Office 7 (Central Visayas) has the most number of accosted violators with 1,755 unauthorized back riders followed by Police Regional Office 5 (Bicol) with 741 violators; Police Regional Office 6 (Western Visayas) with 737; and, Police Regional Office 3 (Central Luzon) with 675.
He said motorcycle riders have until July 26 to install either a prototype plastic shield as proposed by Bohol Governor Arthur Yap or a barrier designed by motorcycle ride-hailing platform Angkas.
“Let us allow the government to slowly implement these rules in order to ensure that everybody would comply and at the same time, for our law enforcers on the ground not to be overwhelmed by the large number of violators which was actually recorded in just a few days after pillion riding was allowed,” Eleazar said.
He said success in the compliance of the rules on pillion riding “could serve as the basis for our policymakers to expand and allow more people for back-riding.”
Last Saturday, Interior Secretary Eduardo Año reminded the couples riding motorcycles to bring with them documents proving that they are married or common-law partners.
He said mandatory installation of safety barriers has been extended until July 26 to give riders enough time to comply.
Beginning July 27, Año said authorities will start issuing citation tickets to violators amid the government’s imposition of quarantine measures to combat the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) outbreak.
Motorists earlier asked for an extension to ensure that their compliance conforms with the safety standards set by the NTF for Covid-19.
“We hope that the two-week grace period is more than enough for motorists to conform to the safety standards of the two approved designs to ensure the safety of both the driver and the riders,” Eleazar said.
While waiting for the full implementation of the motorcycle barrier policy, Eleazar said they will continue to apprehend motorists for other violations including non-wearing of helmets. (PNA)