PHILIPPINE National Police agents on Saturday apprehended 1,350 pillion riders for failure to install barriers on their motorcycles and for other violation of protocols imposed by the National Task Force Against COVID-19, Lieutenant General Guillermo Lorenzo T. Eleazar announced yesterday.
The official said the motorcycle riders were accosted and issued tickets mostly by agents of the PNP Highway Patrol Group after they were found to be in violation of government rules on pillion riding or have failed to install required barriers despite three reprieves.
As commander of the Joint Task Force COVID Shield, Lt. Gen. Eleazar said the defiance of some motorcycle riders would be met with appropriate sanctions based on the guidelines approved by PNP chief, General Archie Francisco F. Gamboa in coordination with the Land Transportation Office and the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority
“When our motorcycle riders repeatedly pleaded for them to be allowed to back-ride at least their spouses or live-in partners, the National Task Force Against COVID-19 listened to their appeal. What the NTF Against COVID-19 was asking in return is for them to install the approved barriers because it is integral for their protection and safety against coronavirus infection,” he said.
“As per Secretary of the Interior and Local Government Eduardo Año, we are not requiring all motorcycle riders to install barriers. But if they are going to use their motorcycles for back-riding, then they should follow the rules. The deadline for them to comply were extended twice and they were given a total of 22 days to install the prescribed barriers, we believe that it is more than enough time to do what is asked from them,” Eleazar added.
The NTF Against COVID-19 allowed motorcycle pillion riding last July 10 under the condition that there must be a barrier and that pillion riding must be limited to married and live-in partners. The deadline to install motorcycle barrier was on July 31 while the full implementation of the motorcycle pillion riding rules started on Saturday.
Based on the PNP data, a total of 704 motorcycle riders were apprehended for failure to install barriers while back-riding their spouses or live-in partners. Of the violators, a total of 697 were cited for appropriate traffic violations while seven were arrested and were taken to the police station.
Violators being taken to the police stations are due to various reasons that include being disrespectful to the apprehending authorities, or, due to existing local ordinances that require violators to be taken to the police stations to arrange for a community service as a penalty, Eleazar explained.
Based on the PNP guidelines, back-riding married and living-in partners without the required barrier, not wearing face masks and not wearing helmets fall under Reckless Driving with penalties ranging from P1,000 to P10,000 depending on the number of the same offense committed.
On the other hand, a total of 580 more motorcycle riders were also accosted for failure to comply with the rules on the installation of barriers while having a back-rider other than their spouses or live-in partners. Of the figure, 551 were cited for violations while 29 were taken to the police station.
Eleazar said for those who are not authorized to back-ride (those who are not married or live-in partners), the penalty would fall under Overloading of Passengers of P1,000.
The official said a total of 66 motorcycles were also cited for violation even with the installed barriers since police found out that they were back-riding people other than their spouses or live-in partners. The penalty also falls under Overloading of Passengers.
Most of the violators were accosted by the PNP-HPG headed by Brigadier Gen. Eliseo DC Cruz with 284. Among the 17 police regional offices, the Police Regional Office 7 in Central Visayas has the most number of apprehension with 187, followed by the Police Regional Office 5 in Bicol Region with 158; Police Regional Office 9 in Western Mindanao with 129 and Police Regional Office 12 in Central Mindanao with 120.
Eleazar stressed that the continuous defiance of some motorcycle riders in the coming days would only compromise the NTF Against COVID-19's plan to eventually allow more people other than married couples and live-in partners to back-ride.
“The NTF Against COVID-19 is currently assessing the compliance of our motorcycle riders. We hope that the number of violators would significantly decrease in the coming days and until all of them eventually comply with the prevailing rules,” he said.
The DILG earlier stressed the need to install barriers as it anticipated that some motorcycle riders would back-ride just anybody and would even take advantage of the NTF Against COVID-19’s approval of pillion riding by fetching stranded commuters for a fee.
True enough, Eleazar said more than 30,000 motorcycle riders were accosted in various parts of the country from July 10 to July 31 during the three-week grace period (aside from the 1,350 apprehended during the first day of strict implementation on August 1.
He said all of the violators were back-riding people other than their spouses or live-in partners.