A MISHAP while President Duterte was riding his motorcycle inside the compound of the Presidential Security Group in Malacanang was first dismissed by the Palace as trivial and nothing to worry about. The incident merited only a superficial physical examination of the President, who later that day even attended a formal gathering of businessmen in Manila.
However, a couple of days later, this same mishap became reason enough for the President to cut short his visit to Japan for the enthronement of Japanese Emperor Naruhito. The official announcement by spokesman Salvador Panelo affirmed that “the President will cut short his trip to Japan due to unbearable pain in his spinal column near the pelvic bone as a consequence of his fall during his motorcyle ride last Thursday, Oct. 17.” The President returned to Manila Tuesday to see his neurologist.
It was just well that Duterte was able to attend the enthronement of Naruhito, which was the main reason for his trip, although he had to use a cane during the ceremonies. Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte represented him at the banquet at the Imperial Palace in the evening.
The accident during Duterte’s motorcycle ride proves that even a small stone, accidentally placed at a certain angle below the tires of a Harley-Davidson worth more than a million pesos, can make an experienced rider fall, whether he be a president or a street sweeper.
The incident also reminds riders and passengers alike to wear the required helmet. Duterte was not wearing one when the accident happened, thus violating the Bong Revilla law on helmets. It’s his comeuppance for daring to throw safety measures to the wind, thinking that he was still the young and virile mayor of Davao.
More than anything else, this riding mishap should instill in all motorcycle enthusiasts that they do not own the road. That just like the drivers of four-wheel vehicles, they have to follow all traffic rules, that they do not have entitlement for every space in the street.
The president of an organization of motorcycle enthusiasts has reported in a radio program that there are three motorcycle accidents – many resulting in deaths and near-fatal injuries – every hour in the country. He added that most of the time, the party in error is the motorist on the bike.
We hope the President recovers fully from this big bike mishap. But more than this wish, all motorcycle riders and the public should heed the warning that this incident may portend: death on the road.