MANILA – Couples belonging to the LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender) community are among those allowed to motorcycle back-riding, a police official said on Saturday.
"Kung titingnan po natin, binanggit po ng NTF (National Task Force against Covid-19) na ito ay para sa married couple and others na live-in partners so in essence po, kung 'yung ating mga kasamahan sa LGBT ay magkasama sa isang bahay at sila naman po ay live-in partners kasama rin po sila doon (If we will look into it, the NTF said this is for married couples and others who are live-in partners so, in essence, people belonging to LGBT who are living in the same house and are live-in partners are included there)," Joint Task Force Covid Shield commander, Lt. Gen. Guillermo Eleazar, said in a Laging Handa briefing.
He added that couples just need to present proof that they are living in the same residence.
"This time, we exercise common sense as well as consideration. We talked with (Interior) Secretary Eduardo Año and Undersecretary Jonathan Malaya and they said LGBT couples are included in that provision,” he said.
This came as the government allowed motorcycle back-riding using a physical barrier only for couples beginning Friday.
Eleazar, however, said those who were not able to comply with the measure were just given warnings.
"Some who were not married couples or live-in partners were given citation tickets. So far, there were no reports of violations for not wearing helmets or face masks. We will continue to monitor this in the coming days," he added.
Eleazar said the measure is part of the government's efforts to normalize transportation in the country amid the coronavirus disease (Covid-19) pandemic.
"Kasi nga po ang sinasabi nga ito ay dahan dahan na pagpunta natin sa pagluluwag. So initially ang mga partners muna and eventually maaari sa mga anak and eventually para sa lahat ang punta into (It's because this is gearing towards gradual easing of restrictions. Initially, we allowed partners and eventually, parents and their children and eventually, everyone)," he added.
He added that the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-EID) continues to assess policies and proposals on the measure subject to health and safety protocols.
"It will be studied, assessed by (IATF) at kung meron mang pagbabago, 'yun po ay aming ibibigay sa Joint Task Force Covid Shield para sa aming implementation (and if there are changes, that would be given to the Joint Task Force Covid Shield for implementation)," Eleazar said.
Eleazar urged the public to cooperate with law enforcers by putting a physical barrier between the rider and the passenger and wearing face mask and helmet.
Violators would face charges for violations of Republic Act (RA) 11332 or the Mandatory Reporting of Notifiable Diseases and Health. Events of Public Health Concern Act, particularly Section 9 (e) or non-cooperation of persons and entities affected by health events.
Meanwhile, those not wearing helmets may be held liable for violation of Republic Act 10054 or the Motorcycle Helmet Act of 2009 and local ordinances that impose fines for violators.
Eleazar said all police officers were advised to exercise maximum tolerance at all times and to respect the rights of the civilians.
“In return, we ask the motorcycle riders to obey the rules and respect the people that enforce these rules,” he said. (PNA)