Photo from Mindanews

by Secretary Emmanuel Piñol
Chairman, Mindanao Development Authority

Acting on the appeal of poor families in Mindanao who depend on motorcycles for their livelihood, the Mindanao Development Authority (MinDA) yesterday asked the Inter-Agency Task Force on COVID-19 to reconsider and suspend its policy requiring barriers for people riding tandem.

In an official memorandum forwarded to the IATF yesterday, MinDA, a field agency directly under the Office of the President, cited that the new policy set to be implemented Monday will be an added financial burden on poor families whose only means of movement is the motorcycle.

Based on the feedback gathered by MinDA from the field, three reasons were cited by those who appeal for a reconsideration on this new IATF Policy.

1. Impractical since the barrier makes riding tandem dangerous because a strong gust of wind caused by huge vehicles coming from the opposite direction could throw the motorcycle off-balance and may lead to accidents;

2. Expensive and oppressive. The barrier will be an added financial burden on poor families who use motorcyles for livelihood and transport and the excessive fines on violators of the policy could open a new window for corruption.

3. The policy is also viewed as discriminatory because the concern on the possible transmission of COVID 19 virus between two people traveling together is only focused on motorcycle riding but it ignores the fact that those traveling inside air-conditioned private cars face greater risks.

As Chairman of MinDA, I personally directed the preparation and transmission of the Memorandum to the IATF to give them a clearer understanding of the reaction of the common Filipino on the ground.

I consider myself a field operative heading an agency which is well-grounded thus it is my duty to provide feedbacks to our policy makers.

The Motorcycle Barrier Policy is an added financial burden which will affect efforts to restart the economy in Mindanao, as well as in other rural areas of the country where the motorcycle is the main vehicle for transport and livelihood.

We support the IATF's effort to control the spread of the COVID 19 virus but surely, there are other ways of doing it other than implementing measures which would make life more difficult for our people.

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