DILG chief tells motorcycle experts to leave virus mitigation to government

Published July 31, 2020, 10:28 PM

by Vanne Elaine Terrazola

“‘Pag dating sa pandemic, huwag kayong nagmamarunong.” (About the pandemic, do not think that you know everything.)

DILG Secretary Eduardo Año (Photo from Philippine Information Agency / MANILA BULLETIN)
DILG Secretary Eduardo Año (Photo from Philippine Information Agency / MANILA BULLETIN)

This was what Interior Secretary Eduardo Año had to say to the critics of the government-required motorcycle barriers between pillion-riding couples, particularly motorcycle experts and enthusiasts.

Año made the remark Friday as he thanked anew Bohol Governor Arthur Yap for proposing the safety barriers to prevent the transmission of COVID-19 among spouses and couples who will ride the motorcycles in pillion.

“Pero syempre, alam mo, ang daming pilosopo, ang daming critic[s], sabi, ganito, ganyan, ‘di na kailangan ‘yan (But of course, you know, there are a lot know-it-alls, critics, saying this and that, that it’s not necessary),” he said in a forum in Bohol with Yap, Tourism Secretary Bernadette Romulo-Puyat and local chief executives.

“Ang daming mga magagaling, sabi (There are a lot of wise guys, saying), ‘We are from the motorcycle associations, cyclists’. Sabi ko naman, ‘Pagdating sa motor naniniwala ako na expert kayo, pero pag dating sa pandemic, huwag kayong nagmamarunong kasi kailangan pag-aralan ano ba talaga ‘tong virus na ito (But I tell them, ‘When it come to motorcycles I believe you are experts, but when it comes to the pandemic, don’t play experts because you really have to study what this virus is),” said Año.

The Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) chief is the vice chairman of the National Task Force (NTF) against COVID-19 in charge of implementing the government’s policies and action plans to address the pandemic. The NTF approved early this month Yap’s prototype for the motorcycle barriers.

Starting August 1, the two-wheeled motor vehicles shall be equipped with safety barriers for back-riding. Those who will be caught violating the order shall be charged with penalties ranging from P1,000 to P10,000 depending on the number of offenses committed.

Motorcycle groups and enthusiasts, however, have raised their objection to the requirement as this would pose danger to the riders and back-riders. Some senators have also appealed to reconsider this requirement.

During the forum, Balilihan town Mayor Maria Pureza Chatto also relayed to Año the concern of some of her constituents.

“We are happy with the motorcycle barriers, but we also receive oppositions or objections because they believe that we may be protected from the virus but are we also protected from accidents?” Chatto said, continuing on to suggest an alternative such as requiring the riders and passengers to wear full-face helmets and face shield instead.

In response, Año said they compiled footages of main thoroughfares and found out that 30 percent of the motorcycle riders remove their face shields in stoplights.

“Kasi naiinitan sila. ‘Pag andar na hindi na naiibaba ‘yon. So those things are the causes of contamination, even in other countries,” he said, maintaining his position on the matter.

Año also explained to Bohol local executives the reason for the changes in the Department of Health’s reporting of COVID-19 cases, particularly the re-tagging of mild and asymptomatic patients that prompted the surge in the number of COVID-19 recoveries to over 38,000 on Thursday.

“Which should be the right number, so we can gauge how we are faring and prepare our healthcare facilities,” Año said.