Police have apprehended a total of 1,350 motorcycle riders during the first day of the strict implementation of rules on motorcycle pillion riding on Saturday, the Joint Task Force COVID Shield disclosed on Sunday.
Based on the data of the JTF COVIDShield, a total of 704 motorcycle riders were apprehended for failure to install barriers while back-riding their spouses or live-in partners—a total of 697 of them were cited for various traffic violations while seven were arrested and taken to police stations.
Police Lt. Gen. Guillermo Lorenzo Eleazar, commander of the JTF COVID Shield, explained that several violators were taken to the police stations because of being disrespectful to the apprehending authorities, or, due to local ordinances that require violators to be taken to the police stations to arrange for a community service as a penalty.
Back-riding married couples 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;
Also, a total of 580 more motorcycle riders were also accosted for failure to comply with 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.
For those who are not authorized to back-ride (those who are not married or living-in partners), Eleazar said the violation would be Overloading of Passengers with a penalty of P1,000.
Meanwhile, 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.
Eleazar said most of the violators were flagged down by the PNP Highway Patrol Group headed by Brig. Gen. Eliseo Cruz with 284. The Police Regional Office 7 also has the most number of apprehensions with 187, followed by Police Regional Office 5 with 158, Police Regional Office 9 with 129 and Police Regional Office 12 with 120.
The 1,350 apprehended motorcycle riders on Saturday alone is on top of the more than 30,000 violators accosted during the July 10 to July 31 grace period given for motorcycle riders to comply with the installed barriers. The deadline for compliance was on July 31 and all those caught within the three-week grace period were just warned.
Eleazar then urged motorcycle riders to comply with the rules, saying their defiance would just be met with appropriate sanctions based on the guidelines.
“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 barriers because it is part of the safety measures against coronavirus infection,” said Eleazar.
“As per Secretary of the Interior and Local Government Eduardo Año, we are not requiring all motorcycles 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 was extended twice and they were given a total of 22 days to install the barriers, we believe that it is more than enough time to do what is asked from them,” he added.
Eleazar stressed that the continuous defiance of some motorcycle riders in the coming days would only compromise the NTF Against COVID-19 plan to eventually allow more people other than married couples and living-in partners to back-ride.