FOR the nth time, Interior and Local Government Secretary Ed Año on Friday defended the Inter-Agency Task Force’s decision to require pillion riders to install motorcycle barriers which he said has been scientifically proven to be a deterrent against COVID-19.
The DILG chief said that despite criticisms from motorcycle groups, it’s a fact that motorcycle shields can protect the driver and his passenger from the deadly virus compared to merely wearing face masks, helmets and jackets.
Sec. Año cited many reviews of footages of motorcycle riders releasing droplets while driving and exposing their back-rider to the possibility they will catch their saliva. He added that there are many cases wherein motorbike riders remove their face shield and masks during short stops, mainly due to the hot weather. “Pag tinatanggal nila ang face masks at shield, dun na maaaring magkaroon ng transmission,” he told me.
Sec. Año again defended the IATF decision from motorcycle groups which have called their move as ‘stupid.’ “Me mga nagki-criticize dahil mahirap daw, responsibility daw ito ng government, ng health sector pero we just look at the issue. Karamihan ng pumupuna eh mga motorcycle enthusiasts na nandun sa mga lugar like Tanay tuwing weekends na hindi naman mga misis nila ang angkas nila,” he said. Expect the wives of these motorcycle riders to watch the SILG’s words.
“Let’s be practical here. We’re in a pandemic and saving lives is the bottomline. Kaya study first before commenting. Let’s just wait when you are infected, then comment. Your perspective in life will change once you get sick or a member of your family needs an intubator, ICU, medical ventilator,” he told critics of the motorcycle barriers.
The top graduate of PMA Class 1983 also defended the government response to the COVID-19 saying no country can say it has been successful so far in fighting the virus. He particularly compared the country’s situation to that in the United States, Russia, India and Brazil. In the United States, he said that there have been 2,000 recorded COVID-19 deaths a day while there are 600 deaths in India a day.
The DILG chief said that the 2,000 recorded deaths in the U.S. in one day is the total volume of the deaths in the country since last March. “What we do is to study the best practices of different countries and apply what is proper and practical,” he said.
The former Armed Forces chief also cited other countries such as our neighbor Indonesia which also introduced a backpack-style shield for its motorcycle taxi in its effort to curb the transmission of the virus. Well said Mr. Secretary but I still hope that the IATF will come up with an official medical/scientific explanation on how motorcycle barriers can prevent the transmission of the unseen killer virus.
WHAT’S THE DIFFERENCE B/W ANGKAS, HPG RIDERS
On Friday, I was present when Sec. Año, Joint Task Force COVID Shield commander, Lieutenant General Gilor Eleazar and PNP Director for Operations, Major Gen. Ringo Licup accepted the 1,000 motorcycle shields donated by Angkas Group chair George Royeca to the PNP for distribution to motorcycle-riding medical front-liners. He may be the Angkas Group boss but Royeca said he has no idea on how much money was spent by his company to mass produce the shields. However, other enterprising individuals are selling their own shield for a minimum of P600 each.
As part of their corporate social responsibility, Royeca also said they will deploy 1,000 Angkas Riders to provide free rides to medical workers in selected Metro Manila hospitals. It means there will be 1,000 small bike riders who will gladly transport doctors, nurses and other government hospital workers to their working places and back to their residences in Metro Manila for free, even if they are living outside of the National Capital Region.
Believed to have lost tens of millions since they were disenfranchised by the government last April, the Angkas Group is in a mission to win back its franchise and help provide quick transport to the public and most importantly, livelihood to its partner motorcycle riders.
Angkas Group and PNP Highway Patrol Group Motorcycle Riders are different in many ways. First, Angkas Riders drive small 150cc motor bikes while HPG Riders are highly-trained to squeeze in and out of heavy traffic while driving Big Bikes, with engines 10 or 12 times stronger than the 150cc motorcycles.
HPG Riders are also more disciplined Riders, almost trained in perfection to drive Big Bikes while manning traffic, going after criminals and providing lead security to the President and other VIPs in the country. In fact, HPG Riders have even trained Angkas Riders on how to properly ride motorbikes, with safety foremost in their mind.
On Friday afternoon, I joined my friends and fellow Riders, PNP Director for Police-Community Relations, Major Gen. Dionards Carlos and HPG director, Brigadier Gen. Ely Cruz in welcoming members of the HPG Executive Motorcycle Riding Course ‘Corona 19’ Class 04-2020 led by HPG deputy director for administration, Colonel Rommel Cabagnot.
The new HPG Riders underwent basic training on motorcycle balancing, proper braking, bunking, circling, cranking or zigzagging, recovery from accidental slide, lane positioning and techniques on avoiding collision with other vehicles. A warm welcome to the future Tigers and have a happy and safe driving.