Department of Transportation (DOTr) consultant and former Land Transportation chief, Alberto Suansing, believes backriding still poses many risks.
He shared that, should the government allow backriding on private motorcycles, riders and their pillion should be required to wear Personal Protective Equipment (PPEs), such as the ones worn by frontliners when dealing with coronavirus patients in hospitals.
“Dapat naka-PPE pareho [ang rider at backrider]. 'Di puwedeng plastic barrier kasi baka liparin lang 'yan. (The rider and the backrider should wear PPEs. It can’t be a plastic barrier since it may just fly off),” said Suansing.
He also added that, personally, he totally disapproves pillion riding (backriding) among all types of motorcycles, even if the rider and pillion live in the same household, since COVID-19 can easily spread should backriding be allowed again.
“Di naman biro-biro 'yong transmission [na] iniiwasan natin. Personally, hindi ako pabor, unsafe pa 'yon (The transmission of the disease is not a joke. Personally, I do not approve [backriding], it is unsafe).”
Just last week, motorcycle taxi operators such as Angkas and Joyride submitted proposals for protective equipment to convince the government to allow the operation of motorcycle taxis again. The two groups believe motorcycle taxis could help transportation, especially now that commuting is a great struggle for millions of Filipinos due to the restrictions brought about by the pandemic. Their proposal was similar to the one previously proposed by Bohol governor, Arthur Yap.
Unfair treatment to motorcycle riders
Public transport commuters are only separated by a thin plastic cover and are not required to wear PPEs.
Jobert Bolanos, chairman of the Motorcycle Rights Organization, disagreed with the opinion. On public transport like jeepneys, UV Express and buses, he notes, the government doesn’t require complicated guidelines like mandatory wearing of PPEs for passengers, driver, and conductor.
“Ngayon, kung sa PPE nila dadalin ang usapin, sa mga bus ba naka PPE sila [mga pasahero at driver] tulad ng sa motor na may head gear ka bukod sa face mask? (Now when it comes to PPEs, are people on buses, including driver and passengers, required to wear PPEs like they are requiring motorcycles riders who already wear headgear that includes a face mask?)”
On Saturday, Presidential spokesperson, Harry Roque said that the Inter-Agency Task Force on the Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-EID) is already formulating guidelines on the possibility of allowing pillion riding again on motorcycles.
*The Main photo was from a father in Bicol who constructed a separator made from bamboo and plastic cover so that he could fetch his daughter to and from work. He was apprehended by the authorities.