A party-list lawmaker on Friday warned that placing a divider between bicycle-riding couples may not only be useless and impractical, but could put them in danger as well as other motorists and pedestrians.
While he welcomed the decision of the Inter-Agency Task Force on Emerging Infectious Diseases to allow couples on motorcycles, Rep. Ronnie Ong of the Ang Probinsyano party-list group suggested it would be better if the divider requirement was scrapped.
“I don’t see any reason why a divider or a shield is required for couples who eat, sleep and even take a bath together,” said Ong, vice chairman of the House committees on rural development and tourism
“The shield poses a great risk to motorcycle riders, motorists and pedestrians.”
But Interior Undersecretary Jonathan Malaya said he did not see any safety issues arising from putting a physical barrier between a motorcycle rider and the back rider.
He said the design was checked by experts.
Still, Senator Ramon Revilla Jr. on Thursday bucked the measure, saying the makeshift barrier between the motorcycle rider and the passenger might affect its balance, hence increasing the chances of accidents.
Ong said the requirement to place dividers on motorcycles was now the subject of complaints among riders as they feared it would become a convenient tool for extortion by corrupt traffic enforcers.
Instead of a physical divider or a shield being installed on motorcycles, Ong said, riders should just be required to wear full-face helmets, face masks, long-sleeved shirts or jackets, long pants, gloves and shoes.
And while he was thankful that couples were now allowed to ride together, he expressed hope that the new policy would be extended to other family members as long as they had proof that they lived together and complied with other health protocols.
This would greatly reduce the number of commuters who were being stranded daily due to lack of public transportation, Ong said.
Ong has made repeated calls to officials to lift the ban on motorcycle back riders who are related to the motorcycle drivers.
He says many Filipinos are now relying on bicycles and motorcycles in their daily commute because of the limited number and reduced passenger capacity of public transportation due to the health and social distancing protocols.