Biking couples have until Sunday to install barrier

JOINT Task Force COVID Shield commander Lieutenant General Guillermo Lorenzo T. Eleazar yesterday said motorcycle riders in the country have only until Sunday, July 19, to install either of the two prescribed barriers on their motorbikes in order to be allowed to drive around with their spouses or live-in partners without being apprehended by the police starting July 20.

The one-week grace period given to authorized pillion riders was approved by the National Task Force Against COVID-19 led by Defense Secretary Delfin  Lorenzana following a recommendation from Lt. Gen. Eleazar who sought the need for motorcycle riders to comply with the two approved designs—the prototype model of the Bohol Provincial Government and the Angkas design

The Joint Task Force COVID Shield commander said a one-week grace period is aimed at giving motorcycle riders enough time to comply. This was also agreed upon during his consultations with the Philippine National Police Highway Patrol Group headed by Brigadier Gen. Eliseo DC Cruz, Metropolitan Manila Development Authority General Manager Jojo Garcia and Angkas Chief Transport Advocate George Royeca.

“As per Secretary of the Interior and Local Government and NTF Against COVID-19 Vice Chairman Eduardo Año, we will continue monitoring and warning those without barrier while citing or apprehending those with other violations,” said Eleazar.

Eleazar said that the Angkas Shield weighs more or less one kilo. Unlike the prototype barrier of the Provincial Government of Bohol which is attached to the motorcycle, the barrier in the Angkas design is worn by the motorcycle driver.

The barrier is rigid but flexible upon impact. Royeca explained that the thin durable plastic sheet can survive massive force without shattering and shaking.

The NTF Against COVID-19 also approved the prototype submitted by the Provincial Government of Bohol amid the clamor of the public to allow back-riding at least for couples.

Lt. Gen. Eleazar urged all the motorcycle riders to strictly follow the approved designs of the barriers and the rules on back-riding.

“The set of rules for motorcycle back-riding is a balance between safety and the necessity of transportation. Our motorists have long requested this and now that it was finally granted, please do not abuse it,” he said.

Back-riding was first allowed last July 10 due to the public clamor over the limited capacity of public transportation. It was also given the go-signal by Secretary Carlito Galvez Jr., the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process and concurrent Chief Implementer of the government’s policy on COVID-19.

An initial set of rules was released for back-riding which include the installation of a barrier and mandating both the drivers and the back-riders to wear the minimum personal protective equipment such as face masks for coronavirus and helmets for possible accident.

The motorcycle riders are also required to present proof that they are married or live-in partners.

Eleazar stressed that allowing back-riding is both an initial phase of normalizing the transportation in the country amid the coronavirus threat, and proof that the government is listening to the requests and suggestions of the public.