VERA FILES FACT CHECK: Motorcycle ‘back riding’ NOT allowed in areas under quarantine

At least two Facebook (FB) accounts on May 19 posted without explanation an announcement from a municipality in Palawan that now allows motorcycle “back riding,” or two people riding on a motorized two-wheeler.

The posts appeared to mislead netizens in other parts of the country. Based on their comments, some assumed the lifting of the ban applied to their areas too. One of the FB accounts that reposted the advisory without any clarification indicated its address as “Navotas City.”

Motorcycle “back riding” was banned when a large part of the country was placed under community quarantine in mid-March. This was in compliance with social distancing rules in order to reduce the possible spread of COVID-19.

Palawan, and the rest of Region IV-B, are no longer under community quarantine as of May 16, according to Resolution no. 35 of the Interagency Task Force on Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-EID).

On May 18, the municipality of Brooke’s Point in Palawan issued a public advisory on its FB page named COVID-19-Free Brooke’s Point, announcing that back riding is now allowed in their area but “exclusive only to immediate family members or live-in partners.” Residents need to secure a permit from their respective barangays to do this.

Back-riding on motorcycles is still not allowed in areas that remain under different levels of community quarantine.

The Land Transportation Office’s Memorandum Circular No. 2020-2185 issued on May 12 reiterated that in general community quarantine (GCQ) areas, the “prohibition of backride passengers for motorcycle riders shall remain.”

Guidelines released by the Department of Transportation on May 14 show that only one person can ride a motorcycle in areas under modified enhanced community quarantine (MECQ).

Motorcycle taxis, on the other hand, still cannot operate whether the quarantine has been lifted in an area or not.

“The pilot study on motorcycle taxis already ended in March. Technically, in the absence of a law classifying it as a legitimate public transport mode, hindi pa sila (they are not) allowed to operate,” said Goddes Libiran, Transport Assistant Secretary for Communications and Commuter Affairs, in an interview with VERA Files.

The misleading posts now have close to a thousand shares on FB, a day after they were posted.

(Editor’s Note: VERA Files has partnered with Facebook to fight the spread of disinformation. Find out more about this partnership and our methodology.)