Bicolano solon assails ‘no Angkas policy’

LEGAZPI CITY --- A Bicol party list solon branded as “anti-poor” the policy of not allowing motorcycle drivers to have one back riding passenger while allowing car drivers to have more than one passengers after the easing of quarantine measures in the country.

Ako Bicol Party List Rep. Alfredo Garbin said “if the Interagency Task Force (IATF) would continue to allow motorist to have passengers within their privately-owned SUVs, cars and utility trucks under general community quarantine (GCQ), then they must also allow motorcycle drivers to have one back riding passenger.”

Garbin, a lawyer and vice chair of the House Committee on Justice and a member of the Committee on Transportation, said his request asking the IATF to allow motorcycle driver to have one back riding passenger was based on a constitutional provision giving equal protection of law.

He said if the IATF would continue to discriminate against motorcycle riders, there would probably be legal challenges and this matter would be brought before the court.

Quoting a provision the 1987 Constitution, “this equal protection of law covers life, liberty, and property, as well as livelihood,” he said.

Citing transport statistics, Gabin said there are 7.2 million registered motorcycles and millions of Filipino families who are dependent on motorcycles as their personal means of transportation.

He said the IATF guidelines allowing only one rider on a motorcycle and strictly prohibiting back riders seem to be irrational and inapplicable to couples and their immediate family members because family members reside in the same house.

“The perceived benefit of social distancing does not exist in a household, in reality social distancing doesn’t apply inside a household,” Garbin pointed out.

Garbin said if social distancing does not apply in a family residence, he urged the IATF and the Department of Transportation (DOTr) to modify the prohibition on back riding by allowing family members to back-ride.