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'Back-riding' still prohibited in GCQ areas 

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The Department of Transportation (DOTr) said checking "back-riders" on motorcycles in areas under general community quarantine will be hard to implement.

Ako Bicol party-list Representative Alfredo Garbin Jr. proposed to allow motorcycle riders to have one back-rider or passenger in GCQ areas, especially if they belong to one household.

In a Dobol B sa News TV interview, DOTr Assistant Secretary Goddes Libiran said traffic enforcers may have a hard time checking every motorcycle rider to ensure that their passenger belong to the same household.

"Hindi kakayanin ng enforcers natin na mano-mano at isa-isang i-check ang mga naka-motor para lang mapatunayan kung magkasama ba sa bahay o magkamag-anak yung magka-back ride," she said.

"Mahirap din i-distinguish kung habal-habal yan o nagpapanggap lang na mag-asawa o magkasama sa bahay," she added.

At the same time, Libiran said that in every policy recommended, the government must ensure that there is uniformity in enforcement with other measures being practiced.

In GCQ areas, for instance, while most public utility vehicles will be allowed to operate, such as trains, bus augmentation, and taxis, they are still on limited passenger capacity. shuttle services, point-to-point buses, and bicycles will be allowed to operate with a limited passenger capacity.

"Kung papayagan natin yung back ride, manganganak yan ng ibang requests for exemptions at katanungan. Kasi sasabihin ng mga sumasakay sa jeep, bakit pagbabawalan silang magkakatabi e pinapayagan naman ang magkakatabi sa motor? Ganun din sa private vehicles pati sa mga bus o sa mga tren," Libiran said.

"Sasabihin nila 'Pwede naman palang magkatabi sa sasakyan kasi magkasama naman sila sa bahay.' Ano pang dahilan kung bakit tayo nag-impose ng reduced capacity sa mga bus, sa mga jeepneys, sa mga tricycle o kahit sa mga tren?" she added.

Libiran pointed out that the world is currently experiencing a pandemic --- "an extraordinary situation that requires extraordinary cooperation."

"Hindi kasi natin kayang i-afford to be lenient with some and uncompromising with others. We need to uphold order, we need to uphold safety and uniformity of rules and regulations," she said.

Should there be policy requests or suggestions from officials like local government heads or members of Congress, Libiran said they could lodged them with the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-EID) for deliberation and approval.

"Pero habang wala pang desisyon, kung ano yung desisyon ng IATF o kung ano yung rules and regulations na pinatutupad ng IATF o ng DOTr at DILG, yan ang dapat manaig to observe uniformity in rules and regulations," she said.

Meanwhile, Interior Undersecretary Jonathan Malaya said that motorcycle taxis like Angkas are still not allowed during GCQ and modified enhanced community quarantine.

The DILG has issued Memorandum Circular No. 2020-083 directing local government units to strictly prohibit the operation of motor taxis as part of the regulatory measures in public transportation in GCQ and MECQ areas.

"Alam po namin na marami pong umaasa sa Angkas at iba pang motor taxis para makarating sa kanilang trabaho at destinasyon ngunit dahil sa patuloy na banta ng COVID-19, hindi pa rin pinahihintulutan ng gobyerno ang ganitong mode of transportation dahil sa violation ng physical distancing," Malaya said.

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