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