Gov’t allows backriding for couples effective July 10

Backriding among couples is back. 

Effective July 10, the government will now allow backriding among couples, Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) Secretary Eduardo Año announced Thursday. 

DILG Secretary Eduardo Año
DILG Secretary Eduardo Año (PCOO / MANILA BULLETIN)

But Año explained that this will be permitted as long as a protective shield between the rider and the passenger is mounted. 

He explained that those living in the same household, whether they are married or “boyfriend and girlfriend” are considered as couples. 

Año said that law enforcers may check their identification cards (ID) and determine if they have the same surnames and addresses. 

“Kung live in sila, ganun din the same address din (If they are live-in partners, it is just the same they should have the same address). So there are so many ways para mapatunayan na they are living in the same house (to determine if they are living in the same house),” Año explained. 

DILG Undersecretary and spokesman Jonathan Malaya said same-sex couples are allowed to backride as long as they are live-in partners. 

He explained that same-sex couples can get a certification from the barangay to prove that they are living together. 

Those who violate the policy will be charged for violating Executive Order 1132 and other appropriate cases, Año said. 

In an interview over ABS-CBN, Año revealed that a prototype barrier between the rider and passenger submitted by Bohol Governor Arthur Yap was already approved by the National Task Force (NTF). 

The barrier has dividers and handles between the riders and passengers to help contain the spread of COVID-19, Año said. 

Motorcycle dividers rejected But Senator Ramon Revilla Jr. appealed to the government to reconsider the use of barriers, saying it is “fundamentally unsafe” and might cause accidents because it will impact the motorcycle balance. 

Revilla said he already sent a letter to Defense Secretary and National Task Force (NTF) on COVID-19 Chairman Delfin Lorenzana to air his concern. 

In his letter, he explained that the barrier will affect the motorcycle's balance, which he described as the “most crucial aspect in designing, engineering, and riding a motorcycle.”

“When you have a backrider, the weight has to be synchronized. As the rider weighs left, the backrider has to do the same or else there's a high chance of crashing,” Revilla, also speaking as a rider, told Lorenzana. 

“A divider between both riders will make balance very difficult as there will be no tactile feedback between them. That barrier will also impact aerodynamics greatly, also interfering with balance,” he added. 

Revilla said the barriers are not anymore necessary, since the couples “live in the same house where they interact in the same space without masks, share utensils, and at the end of day, sleep on the same bed.” 

"The installation of a barrier on motorcycles for the purpose of protecting them from each other seems unnecessary,” he stressed. 

As an alternative, Revilla suggested that the NTF require instead the riders and backriders to wear gloves, face masks, and full face helmets, or if not, face shields, which will not interfere with their balance. 

More models welcomed 

However, Año said the task force will continue to accept the submission of other designs and proposals from other individuals. 

Año noted that a technical working group (TWG) will carefully scrutinize the submitted designs and will give its approval if the team finds it to be safe for travel while appropriately shielding the passenger and the rider from one another to prevent droplets from being inhaled by both parties. 

Año said the protective shield should cover past the head and should have handles attached to its poles. 

He noted that the back rider and the driver should still wear face masks and helmets during their travel. 

With the new configuration of the motorcycle, Año said the driver should always observe the speed limit to avoid accidents or any untoward incidents.