Lt. Gen. Guillermo Eleazar, commander of Joint Task Force COVID Shield, has recommended the resumption of the motorcycle-taxi pilot run in areas under general community quarantine, particularly Metro Manila.
During a hearing initiated by the House Committee on Transportation, Eleazar said that the recommendation is based on an ongoing policy of the Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF) for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases, which allows backriding in GCQ areas, provided certain conditions are met.
For its part, the House panel is pushing for the resumption of the motorcycle-taxi pilot run for two reasons: 1) the acute shortage of public transportation; and, 2) the lack of supporting data from the previous experimental schemes conducted with motorcycle-taxi companies Angkas, JoyRide, and Move It. Rep. Edgar Sarmiento says that letters have been sent to the IATF requesting for the resumption of the pilot run. The results will then be the basis of a law that will legitimize motorcycles-for-hire in the country.
The use of backriding barriers, which is currently mandatory among riders and pillion riders not living under one roof, will be one of the requirements for motorcycle-taxi companies. “Ang experience po kasi namin, because these barriers are being used ng mga magkaangkas na hindi naman magkasama sa isang bahay, since we are allowing that for private use, ay ano pa bang ang pagkakaiba pa nun kung matutulungan natin [ang mga] walang motorsiklo but may available naman na motorcycle taxi?” said Eleazar.
“For as long as mayroon pong [backriding] barrier,” he stressed.
Aside from this, Eleazar said that passengers must be required to use face masks and helmets with full-visors.
While almost all those present during the hearing agreed with the latter recommendation, some solons questioned the rationale behind the motorcycle barrier, which they believe is unsafe, unpractical, and an unnecessary expense. “What’s the logic to that...when the rider and passenger are already using a helmet and face mask? Kung humatsing ba sila, kakalat ba talaga ang virus?” asked Rep. Sharon Garin.
Instead of debating, Eleazar reasoned that the Joint Task Force is only an implementing body of the policies approved by the IATF.
Nevertheless, Assistant Secretary Steve Pastor of the Department of Transportation (DOTr) said that, as part of the technical working group (TWG) assigned to oversee the motorcycle-taxi pilot run, he will bring up the recommendations with the IATF.
NOTE: This article first appeared on TopBikes.ph. Minor edits have been made.