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Motorcycle back riders face penalties of up to P10,000 

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Violators of the government’s policies on motorcycle back riding will be fined up to P10,000, according to the joint police task force on COVID-19.

The government allowed back riding for spouses and cohabiting couples early this month and gave them a three-week grace period or until Friday to install the required barriers. They can either put up an acrylic barrier held by a steel frame attached to the passenger foot pegs or the driver can wear the backpack-like design.

“For more than three weeks, we were just warning and advising the violators to comply until July 31. As the grace period ends today, we expect that all motorcycle riders have already complied in order for them to avoid inconvenience as they go to work and ride back home,” Police Lieutenant General Guillermo Lorenzo Eleazar, Commander of Joint Task Force COVID Shield said in a statement.

According to the task force, motorists who fail to wear face masks and helmets or install the government-approved protective shield will be fined P1,500 to P2,000 for the first offense, P3,000 for the second offense, and P5,000 to P10,000 for subsequent offenses. This is in line with the penalties for reckless driving.

Those caught back-riding people other than their spouses or live-in partners will be meted out with a P1,000 fine, in line with the penalty for overloading of passengers. Valid IDs and other documents should be presented to prove that the riders are married or living together.

For the past three weeks, a total of 29,444 people were accosted nationwide for violating this rule, the task force said. They were let go with a warning.

Drivers who are not considered authorized persons outside residence will face a P3,000 fine, the same amount for driving without a license, the task force said.

Police commanders and the Highway Patrol Group have already been instructed to apprehend violators starting August, the task force added.

Experts earlier warned that installing barriers could cause accidents as the approved designs are not compatible with all types of motorcycles. They added that shields pose a danger because of its effect on aerodynamics while motorists are on transit. Motorcycle Development Program Participants Association, Inc. said wearing helmets and face masks or balaclava is already “an excellent measure" in preventing COVID-19 infection.

Officials have stood by the government-approved designs, with the Department of Interior and Local Government blaming “faulty” materials for barrier-related accidents. The task force also said the couples will be a "test case" and their compliance will be considered when the National Task Force against COVID-19 decides on whether to allow back riding for all.

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