New de­sign for mo­tor­cy­cle pil­lion rid­ing OK’d; sen­a­tors urge safe­guards, sim­pler ID check

The Na­tional Task Force (NTF) COVID-19 has ap­proved the back­pack style of the pro­tec­tive shield or bar­rier that should be used in mo­tor­cy­cles car­ry­ing two pas­sen­gers.

(DND Sec. Delfin Lorenzana / MANILA BULLETIN)

In his Mon­day press brief­ing, pres­i­den­tial spokesman Harry Roque said the NTF ap­proved the de­sign pro­posed by motor­cy­cle taxi firm Angkas and that this can be used im­me­di­ately.

Se­na­tor Christo­pher Lawrence Go, chair­man of the Se­nate health and de­mog­ra­phy com­mit­tee had ear­lier urged concerned agen­cies to con­sult rid­ers and mo­tor­cy­cle safety ex­perts so they could also as­sist in de­ter­min­ing the mea­sures that should be re­quired by the gov­ern­ment for back­rid­ing, such as the in­stal­la­tion of makeshift shields on motorcy­cle units.

He ex­pressed his sup­port for the Inter-Agency Task Force’s de­ci­sion to al­low back­rid­ing on mo­tor­cy­cles specif­i­cally for mar­ried cou­ples, es­pe­cially since pub­lic trans­porta­tion is still lim­ited in many ar­eas in the coun­try.

The pro­posed “back­pack” de­sign has di­viders and han­dles be­tween the rid­ers and pas­sen­gers to pre­vent the trans­mis­sion of COVID-19.

In­stead of be­ing in­stalled di­rectly on the mo­tor­cy­cle, the pro­tec­tive trans­par­ent shield or bar­rier is worn by the driver of the mo­tor­cy­cle.

This is the sec­ond shield ap­proved by the NTF. The first was the pro­to­type de­signed by Bo­hol Gov­er­nor Arthur Yap. 

Yap’s de­sign re­quires the shield to be in­stalled on the mo­tor­cy­cle.

But Se­na­tor Risa Hon­tiveros on Mon­day urged the IATF to re­con­sider its plan to re­quire mo­tor­cy­cle back­rid­ing cou­ples to in­stall makeshift shields, as do­ing so would be dan­ger­ous to the rid­ers.

“Maaar­ing de­likado ang makeshift shield na re­quire­ment ng IATF para sa mga nagba-back­ride sa mo­tor (IATF’s require­ment of a makeshift shield could be dan­ger­ous to the rider who will back­ride),” Hon­tiveros said in a state­ment.

She said the gov­ern­ment should in­stead fo­cus on en­forc­ing proven safety mea­sures against COVID-19, like the wear­ing of face masks, gloves and hel­mets.

Although Angkas’ pro­posed de­sign has been ap­proved for gen­eral use, Angkas it­self is un­able to use it as it is still not al­lowed to op­er­ate dur­ing the quar­an­tine, con­sid­er­ing that mo­tor­cy­cle taxis have no ex­ist­ing fran­chise.

Last week, the gov­ern­ment al­lowed pil­lion rid­ing but only for hus­band and wives, com­mon-law cou­ples, and live-in part­ners. To prove their re­la­tion­ship, hus­bands and wives will be re­quired to present their mar­riage con­tract to authorities while com­mon-law cou­ples and livein part­ners should bring IDs that show they are liv­ing in the same address.

Hon­tiveros also said the gov­ern­ment should clar­ify the con­tra­dict­ing di­rec­tives re­gard­ing the doc­u­men­tary proof that cou­ples need to show at the check­point.

“Any ID or au­tho­riza­tion from the barangay show­ing that the rid­ers share the same ad­dress should be ac­cepted by law en­forcers,” Hon­tiveros said.

On Fri­day, Roque said only cou­ples are al­lowed to ride on mo­tor­cy­cles at the same time be­cause the ini­tial clamor for pil­lion rid­ing or back-rid­ing was for cou­ples only. Cou­ples would also have to fol­low pub­lic health stan­dards and road safety stan­dards like the wear­ing of face masks and hel­mets and ob­serv­ing the speed limit.