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Cebu gov­er­nor with­draws ex­ec­u­tive or­der al­low­ing pil­lion pas­sen­gers on mo­tor­cy­cles

By Julie M. Aure­lio @Jmaure­lioinq

Pres­i­dent Duterte has re­fused to ex­empt Cebu province to the pro­hi­bi­tion on pil­lion rides, or “back rides” on mo­tor­cy­cles, as he may be charged for giv­ing un­due ad­van­tage to a lo­cal govern­ment unit, to the prej­u­dice of other lo­cal govern­ment units.

The Pres­i­dent backed In­te­rior Sec­re­tary Ed­uardo Año’s po­si­tion on the “no back ride pol­icy” as a pre­ven­tive mea­sure against the spread of the new coro­n­avirus dis­ease (COVID-19).

In a tele­vised ad­dress aired on Fri­day morn­ing but taped on Thurs­day night, Mr. Duterte was in­formed of a man­i­festo of sup­port for Cebu Gov. Gwen­dolyn Gar­cia’s ex­ec­u­tive or­der al­low­ing pil­lion rides.

“You know, as much as I would like to ac­com­mo­date Gov­er­nor Gar­cia and the board mem­bers, here’s what I can say: If I be­gin to give an ex­emp­tion to one, I will open my­self to charges of anti­graft law, giv­ing an­other an un­due ad­van­tage,” the Pres­i­dent said. “So if I give you an ex­emp­tion, and the oth­ers will fol­low, they may not file charges, but oth­ers, not from govern­ment, will want to just test the ca­pac­ity of a Pres­i­dent of break­ing the law.”

Gar­cia on Thurs­day al­lowed pil­lion rides on pri­vate mo­tor­cy­cles to com­pen­sate for the limited forms of mass trans­porta­tion in the province while un­der com­mu­nity quar­an­tine.

On Fri­day, min­utes af­ter the Pres­i­dent’s ad­dress, Gar­cia, in an in­ter­view over ra­dio sta­tion dyla and speak­ing in Ce­buano, said she with­drew her ex­ec­u­tive or­der “be­cause he (Mr. Duterte) is my Pres­i­dent, I will fol­low him.”

“I will with­draw my ex­ec­u­tive or­der. To all my fel­low Ce­buanos, I did ev­ery­thing I can to al­le­vi­ate your con­di­tions amid the re­stric­tions caused by the COVID-19. I re­ally tried my best,” she added.

‘It is the law’

Mr. Duterte said he un­der­stood the predica­ment of those who needed to use mo­tor­cy­cles in bring­ing their loved ones to their work­places.

“The law is hard but it is the law. Wala ta­laga akong ma­g­awa. (I could not do any­thing about that). It’s not my dis­cre­tion. Just be­cause I am the Pres­i­dent does not mean that I can ig­nore the laws of the land,” he said.

Both the In­ter-agency Task Force on Emerg­ing In­fec­tious Dis­eases and the Depart­ment of Trans­porta­tion have pro­hib­ited pil­lion rid­ing on mo­tor­cy­cles since it does not al­low for phys­i­cal dis­tanc­ing, one of the health mea­sures seen to stop the spread of the COVID-19.

Mo­tor­cy­cle driv­ers have re­peat­edly ap­pealed to the govern­ment to al­low pil­lion rides, es­pe­cially if the rider is the driver’s spouse or fam­ily mem­ber.

Año as­sured the public that the “no back rides pol­icy” was not a per­ma­nent pol­icy. “It’s not for­ever. We will soon be at the new nor­mal and if there are zero cases, we can al­low it,” he said.

The Pres­i­dent, a mo­tor­cy­cle en­thu­si­ast, agreed with the in­te­rior sec­re­tary, say­ing: “I agree that we are fac­ing dif­fi­cult, hard times. I don’t know if we can go back to the same old style of be­fore.”

—WITH RE­PORTS FROM JHUN­NEX NA­PALL­CAN, NES­TLE SEMILLA AND DALE IS­RAEL/PHOTO BY CEBU DAILY NEWS