By Vanne Elaine Terrazola
Senator Grace Poe on Tuesday appealed to the government to allow back-riding of relatives in motorcycles to lessen the number of commuters and workers who had to cope with the lack of public transport.
“Ang pag-angkas sa motorsiklo ay sariling paraan ng ating mga kababayan para makarating sa trabaho at makapaghanapbuhay para sa kanilang pamilya (Backriding of kin is one way to get to their places of work and earn for their families). Malaking kabawasan na ito sa mga stranded na pasahero na araw-araw ay hirap makasakay. (This would be a great relief to our stranded passengers who had to suffer in their commute every day)” said Poe, chairperson of the Senate committee on public services.
The Inter-agency Task Force (IATF) for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases is finalizing the guidelines for pillion riding in motorcycles, but Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said this would only apply to private bikes, and not motorcycle-hailing services.
In her statement, Poe said that it would be “safer for a spouse to ride with her partner than to walk, take a tricycle or other public transportation, which could expose her to infection.”
She said the pillion riders should just carry or keep a copy of the IDs and other relevant documents as proof of kinship when flagged down by enforcers.
She maintained that the riders must still strictly adhere to health and safety protocols to avoid the spread of the COVID-19 infection as well as existing policies such as the wearing of helmets.
“Nakakapanlumo na makita ang magkapamilya na sa pagpasok sa trabaho, ‘yung isa ay nasa motorsiklo at ‘yong isa ay naglalakad dahil bawal ang angkas (It’s devastating to see relatives that when they go to work, one rides the motorcycle, while the other walks just because backriding is prohibited),” Poe said.
“Malasakit ang panawagan ng ating mga manggagawang naglalakad nang kilo-kilometro bago makasakay. Ubos na ang lakas nila bago pa man makarating sa pinagtatrabahuhan o opisina (Our workers have been appealing for compassion as they walk for kilometers before getting to their workplaces. They were already tired even before they arrive at work),” she appealed.
The Department of Transportation on Monday started its second phase of it public transport plan amid the community quarantine. Modernized jeepneys were deployed, in addition to the selected buses, taxis and ride-hailing services that were initially allowed to resume operations.
In February, Poe sponsored Senate Bill No. 1341 or the “Motorcycles-for-Hire Act” which seeks to legalize and regulate motorcycle taxis.