LET us begin with the lack of scientific foundation in the “no backriding policy.” A public health policy like this one should have strong scientific foundation.
First, motorcycle riders have better protection from Covid-19 infection compared to jeepney commuters because riders have no proximity with other commuters unlike in the small space inside a jeepney. Sitting anywhere in the jeepney, a passenger will be less than a foot away from the face of other commuters coming in and out of the jeepney. That is so, even if they are sitting one meter apart. Riding a motorcycle with your spouse or family member protects the family from this risk.
Second, motorcycle riders are directly exposed to sunlight, which helps destroy Covid-19 in the clothing because of its direct exposure to the antiseptic effects of ultraviolet light. That opportunity is not available to commuters stuck inside jeepneys, side-by-side.
Now, there is the lack of common sense in this policy, bordering cognitive illness.
First, the policy is based on the assumption that family members, particularly spouses, are socially distancing at home. That is cognitive nonsense. If family members cannot socially distance at home, what is the point of doing that on a motorcycle? The average floor area even in subdivisions today ranges from 50 to 200 square meters. Thus, each member of a family of five (the average Filipino household size) has only 10 square meters of space if social distancing is enforced at home, assuming the house has no cabinet, no rest room, no tables and no appliances. Some floor areas are even at 25 square meters.
Second, most Filipinos do not have cars, unlike these policymakers. Those who have motorcycles cannot use them for the family because of the policy. This forces Covid-19 negative families to expose themselves in public transportation when going out to buy groceries in malls and commercial centers.
Unfortunately, this is not the only problem. The policy is discriminatory against the poor and even the middle- class Filipinos who do not have cars to drive. It exposes the majority of the Filipinos to Covid-19 infection in public transportation.
In effect, the “no backriding” policy is unscientific, nonsensical, discriminatory and destructive to family relationships in Covid-19-free homes, if its underlying principle is implemented at home. It is showbiz invading public health policy making. The fact is that a good respirator can remove all the threat issues supposedly addressed in this policy. Come on, DILG (Department of the Interior and Local Government)! Filipinos deserve far better thinking than this.