MANILA — Senator Christopher Lawrence “Bong” Go is urging the Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF) for the Management of Emerging Diseases to thoroughly study the proposed guidelines and determine the necessary health and safety protocols needed to be in place in permitting motorcycle back-riders.
At the same time, Go also appealed to commuters to comply with health safety guidelines that will be implemented.
“Malaking tulong sa ating mga kababayan kung papayagan (muli) ang ‘backriding’ sa motorsiklo lalo na dahil limitado pa ang public transportation. Huwag lang po natin madaliin. Siguraduhin dapat na magagawa ito sa ligtas na paraan,” he said.
Go lauded the decision of the IATF to allow back-riding in principle provided that the proper guidelines are put in place. He further stressed that the proposal will improve mobility of the public and also provide livelihood, especially to drivers of motorcycle riding apps.
He, however, emphasized that a thorough scientific study considering both health and transportation safety aspects must be conducted in order to provide riders and commuters the necessary guidelines if this mode of transportation is deemed scientifically advisable.
“Dapat pag-aralan muna kung ‘yung mga proposals tulad ng paggamit ng plastic dividers sa gitna ng nagmamaneho at ng pasahero ay sapat upang hindi makahawa ng sakit. Ikonsidera rin dapat kung ang mga proposed safety measures na ito ay hindi makakasama sa kaligtasan ng pagmomotorsiklo at sa kalsada,” he stressed.
As early as June 4 when more stringent quarantine protocols were gradually lifted, the Senator suggested to the government to study further the possibility of allowing back-riding in motorcycles, given the limited public transportation options, especially in big cities, such as Metro Manila. He cautioned, however, that, above all, health safety should be a primary consideration.
“Una sa lahat, buhay muna ng tao ang pinaka-importante sa anumang desisyong gagawin ng gobyerno,” he emphasized.
According to IATF officials, they are amenable in principle to allow back-riding amid persistent public complaints that the ban on back-riding placed greater inconvenience on commuters as public utility vehicles operate at a reduced capacity in areas under general community quarantine. The GCQ status of Metro Manila was extended until June 30.
IATF Resolution No. 47 released June 19 stated that a Technical Working Group is directed to convene and determine the safest and most effective manner to reduce the rate of disease transmission in back-riding in motorcycles.
“For this purpose, this mode of transportation is hereinafter allowed in principle upon the approval of the requirements to be set by the TWG,” the resolution stated.
The IATF’s Technical Working Group tasked to develop the protocols is composed of the Department of Health, Department of Transportation, Department of Science and Technology, Department of Trade and Industry – Bureau of Philippine Standards and Metro Manila Development Authority.
Senator Go noted that the shortage on public transportation made it harder for Filipinos to return to work. He encouraged Filipinos to cooperate with the authorities and wait for the protocols to ensure the disease does not spread further.
“Hindi pa tapos ang laban. Andyan pa rin ang banta ng pandemyang ito. Kaya hinihikayat ko ang ating mga kababayan na huwag maging kampante. Sumunod tayo sa mga health protocols, lalo na ang social distancing at pagsuot ng face masks,’’ he reminded the public.
“Kung ano po ang gagawin natin sa susunod na mga araw, kung paano po tayo magtutulungan na maiwasan ang pagkalat ng sakit, kung paano po natin mas maisasaayos ang ating health facilities — ito po ang tanging makakapagsabi kung kailan tayo makakabalik muli sa normal na pamumuhay at tuluyang matapos ang krisis na dulot ng COVID-19,’’ he continued.
In a recent presser, Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque disclosed that the DOH is conducting a study of a special suit that could prevent human-to-human transmission of pathogens. Ride-hailing service Angkas also presented proposed safety measures that they believe could keep their drivers and passengers safe if back-riding is allowed.
“Pinapayagan na in principle ang back-riding upon the approval of the requirements na ise-set ng technical working group,” Roque added.
Department of Interior and Local Government Secretary Eduardo Año assured the public that government would look into making adjustments that can address the needs of the general public when it comes to transportation without compromising their health and safety.
As of June 1, buses, trains, taxis, ride-hailing services, shuttle services and bicycles, among others, are permitted to operate under the first phase of the DOTr’s transport plan which runs from June 1 to 21.
Tricycles are also allowed, subject to the approval of the local government unit. In the presser, Roque stated that passenger jeepneys may be allowed also in the second phase, running from June 22 to 30, but only if the DOTr determines that current supply of PUVs could not meet public demand.
“Ang hangad po natin dito ay mabigyan ng transportation options ang ating mga kababayan na ligtas at maaasahan kahit na kasalukuyang mayroon pong community quarantine measures,” Go said.
Go also encouraged various stakeholders to contribute their ideas and participate in the study to ensure that the needs of the general public can be addressed without compromising health and safety protocols in place.
“Tulungan po natin ang ating mga kababayan na maging mas madali ang kanilang pamumuhay at mapagaan ang kanilang pinapasan na hirap dulot ng krisis na ito,” he said. (ia/SPH)