THE Joint Task Force COVID Shield apprehended 1,350 motorcycle riders throughout the country on Saturday on the first day of the effectivity of the government’s no barrier.
Task force chief Lt. Gen. Guillermo Eleazar said 704 of the violators were apprehended for not installing barriers or body shields. Of the 704, Eleazar said 697 were cited or given tickets for the violation, while seven were brought to police stations for other infractions such as showing disrespect to apprehending authorities.
Eleazar also said 580 riders were arrested for failure to install barriers and having back-riders who were neither their wives nor live-in partners. Of these riders, 551 were cited for the violation while 29 were taken to police stations.
On the other hand, while 66 riders have the required barrier or body shield, they were apprehended for having passengers who were not their wives or live-in partners.
The Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-EID), which is the government’s policy making body on the COVID-19 pandemic, has approved back-riding strictly for married couples or live-in partners only. Riders were required to install barriers or body shields that would separate them from their passengers, a requirement that has been widely criticized as unnecessary since the couples live in the same house anyway.
The back-riding policy was originally set to take effect on July 10. But due to the public’s difficulty in complying with the installation of the barriers or body shields, its implementation was postponed to August 1.
Under the policy, Eleazar said first time violations were fined P1,000 to P2,000.
Second-time offenders, he said, will be fined P3,000 and third time offenders stand to face a fine of P5,000 to P10,000.
Eleazar appealed to motorcycle riders to comply with the law as he warned that policemen will not be lenient against violators once they are caught. “You are going to be held accountable and fined when you claim your licenses,” he said.
Eleazar said the defiance of the motorcycle riders in the coming days would compromise the government’s plan to eventually allow more people other than married couples and live-in partners to back-ride.
“The NTF (National Task Force) Against COVID-19 is currently assessing the compliance of our motorcycle riders. We hope that the number of violators would significantly decrease in the coming days and until all of them eventually comply with the prevailing rules,” he said.