Pillion riders told to follow safe protocols

JOINT Task Force COVID Shield commander, Lieutenant General Guillermo Lorenzo T. Eleazar yesterday said pillion riders will be accosted by the police should they be spotted not wearing the mandatory face masks and crash helmets as prescribed by law.

The official said  pillion riders who will not be wearing face masks will face charges for violation of Republic Act 11332 or the law on the mandatory reporting of notifiable diseases which was passed by the government amid its battle against the deadly COVID-19 virus.

“Mayroon tayong batas na RA11332. Ngayon po isa sa mga provision doon, ito po ay non-cooperation of person or entity on this health or public concern. Pwede nating gamitin iyon aside from possible existing ordinances ng isang lugar. Aside from sa hindi mag-su-suot ng helmet,”  Lt. Gen. Eleazar said.

Those who are not wearing crash helmets will be apprehended for violation of RA  10054 or the Motorcycle Helmet Act of 2009 which mandates all motorcycle drivers and their back-riders to wear standard protective motorcycle helmets at all times, while driving whether long or short drives in any type of road and highway.

Standard protective motorcycle helmets are appropriate types of helmets for motorcycle riders that comply with the specifications issued by the Department of Trade and Industry.

The law says any person caught not wearing the standard protective motorcycle helmet shall be punished with a fine of P1,500 for the 1st offense;  P3,000 for  2nd offense; P5,000  for the 3rd offense; and P10,000 plus confiscation of the driver's license for 4th

Eleazar and PNP Highway Patrol Group director, Brigadier Gen. Eliseo DC Cruz said that on the 1st day of the government decision to allow pillion riding, HPG officers were told to only warn violators and lecture on them the government policies since they will be apprehended and fined on the 2nd offense.

Cruz said that PNP chief, General Archie Francisco F. Gamboa has ordered them to implement the order allowing couples who are married as well as live-in partners to ride pillion on a motorcycle.

Cruz said he has instructed his men to still check motorcycle riders for use of protective shields and to demand proof that the motorcycle riders are married or living together.

“Basic ang protective shield, ‘yun ang inutos sa atin. Kung wala sila noon, wala po talagang papayagan, di sila papayagan, pero wala pong hulihan. Halimbawa, meron silang protective shield at wala silang maipakitang katibayan na sila ay mag-asawa o mag-live in partner, warning po ang ibibigay natin sa araw na ito,” the PNP-HPG director explained.

Cruz said they will start arresting violators of the rules starting today.

According to Lt. Gen. Eleazar, they are now crafting the specific guideline which must be observed in allowing back-riding couple to pass the Quarantine Control Points in Metro Manila and other parts of the country which are already under the Modified Community Quarantine.

Eleazar said that focus of the guideline is more on health and safety of the riders and to make the policy fool-proof against those who would dare to pretend that they are couple.

“Una, meron kasing ugali ang mga Pilipino na magpalusot. They would do all possible alibi that they can think of just to circumvent the rules even if they are fully aware that what they are doing is wrong,” he said.

“Pangalawa, meron ding ‘puwede na yan’ ugali ang ilan sa ating mga kababayan. Ang iiwasan natin dito ay baka ang gawin nilang divider ay hindi matibay at maging dahilan pa ng aksidente sa daan,” he added.

The National Task Force (NTF) Against COVID-19 has approved back-riding in motorcycles starting July 10  amid the requests from the public and other sectors due to the transportation problems.

Department of Interior and Local Government Secretary Eduardo M. Año said that motorcycles that would be allowed to have a maximum of one passenger are those that are similar to the prototype of the Provincial Government of Bohol which has a barrier between the driver and the passenger, and a handle attached to the barrier for the safety of the passenger.

The DILG chief also said that those who would be allowed to pass the QCPs are couples and partners who have the same address. With that in mind, Eleazar said he instructed supervisors of the QCPs to check all the passing motorcycles in order to make sure that they are indeed couples.

“But in busy roads when the checking would cause traffic jams, they would be allowed to pass unchecked  but would be subjected to random inspection at the mobile checkpoints that would be set up by the PNP-HPG,” he said.

Lt. Gen. Eleazar also advised the motorcycle riders to ready their identification cards and other documents proving that they are indeed couple and living in the same address to facilitate the checking at the QCPs.