Two weeks after President Rodrigo Duterte declared an Enhanced Community Quarantine (ECQ) across the entire Luzon, authority was given to the Inter-agency Task Force on Emerging Infectious Disease (IATF-EID) to formulate guidelines that authorities on the ground level will enforce. These measures are aimed at mitigating the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic which has infected hundreds of thousands globally.
Prohibition of pillion riding ("back riding" in local slang) among motorcycle riders as a measure following social distancing protocols. So far, only citation tickets or Temporary Operator's Permit (TOP) are given to erring motorcycle drivers who are still not following the directive.
The authorities have finally had enough. In a memorandum letter that was circulated among various social messaging groups, the NCRPO (National Captial Region Police Office) Regional Director has now directed all Metro Manila Police Community Precinct Commanders that they should arrest all motorcycle riders who are blatantly violating the “no backride” protocol of the IATF-EID. We confirmed this with the NCRPO PIO (Public Information Office) which said it was authentic.
The memo reads:
“In all our efforts motorcycle riders with "backrider" is a blatant violation of social distancing and citation tickets and TOPs are not enough to let these violators follow the social distancing that we want to implement this crucial times following the Community Quarantine henceforth, starting Friday you arrest drivers and "backriders" for violation of RA 11332 for non-cooperation. We will apply the law in these extraordinary times of health emergency. Use all available means of dissemination to all Barangay officials and to the residents of your respective AORs (area of responsibilities). ”
Under Section 9 of Republic Act 11332 or the "Mandatory Reporting of Notifiable Diseases and Health Events of Public Health Concern Act", the following are described prohibited acts:
(a) Unauthorized disclosure of private and confidential information pertaining to a patient’s medical condition or treatment;
(b) Tampering of records or intentionally providing misinformation;
(c) Non-operation of the disease surveillance and response systems;
(d) Non-cooperation of persons and entities that should report and/or respond to notifiable diseases or health events of public concern; and
(e) Non-cooperation of the person or entities identified as having the notifiable disease, or affected by the health event of public concern.
Penalties. - Any person or entity found to have violated Section 9 of this Act shall be penalized with a fine of not less than twenty thousand pesos (₱20,000.00) but not more than Fifty thousand pesos (₱50,000.00) or imprisonment of not less than one (1) month but not more than six (6) months, or both such fine and imprisonment, at the discretion of the proper court.
As to which exact provision of the prohibited articles is unclear. Just this week, Senator Aquilino Martin D. Pimentel III violated Section 9e by accompanying his pregnant wife to the Delivery Room Complex of Makati Medical Center after having displayed symptoms of COVID-19. The senator was identified as a PUI (Person Under Investigation) for COVID-19 and tested positive for the virus.
Following his Makati Medical Center incident, rumors circulated about Senator Pimentel spotted shopping in S&R Bonifacio Global City on March 16, 2020 began to spread. He was once again confirmed to have been at the BGC branch of the membership shopping chain.
The exact date of the senator's actual test and test result release are unclear and may not be disclosed under the protection of Section 9a. But he was neither arrested or charged by any local authority.