Cebu gov to follow Duterte advice to stop motorcycle back riding
CEBU CITY –– Cebu Gov. Gwendolyn Garcia will heed the advice of President Duterte to continue to disallow pillion or back riding on private motorcycles in the province.
“Because he (Mr. Duterte) is my president, I will follow him,” said the governor in Cebuano in an interview over radio DYLA shortly after President Duterte spoke on national television on Friday morning.
Garcia said all she wanted was to help address the lack of public transportation in the province, which has been under general community quarantine (GCQ) since May 16.
“I simply echoed the sentiments and requests of people who have difficulty looking for vehicles to ride on,” she said.
Garcia said she already advised the Provincial Board to defer its special session, which was supposed to tackle the passage of an ordinance allowing pillion riding on private motorcycles in the province.
“I will withdraw my executive order. To all my fellow Cebuanos, I did everything I can to alleviate your conditions amid the restrictions caused by the COVID-19. I tried my best,” she said.
President Duterte said during a press conference Friday that he could not grant the request of the Cebu provincial government to allow pillion riding on motorcycles since it would open the floodgates of requests from other local government units.
“Cebu supported me to the hilt and one of the factors that gave me the victory in the presidential election. Much as I would like to accommodate Governor Garcia and the board members, here’s what I can say: If I begin to give an exception to one, I will open myself to charges [under] the anti-graft law, (for) giving another an undue advantage,” he said.
“If I give you an exception and the others will follow, some, maybe not from government, just to test the capacity of the president, may file a case (against me). One, I go to prison. Second, discriminatory if at all because my discretion is used to excuse one from the burden of the law that is placed on our hands,” he added.
President Duterte said he understood the predicaments of those who need to use motorcycles in bringing their loved ones to their workplaces.
“The law is hard but it is the law. Wala talaga akong magawa. (I could not do anything about that.) It’s not my discretion. Just because I am the president does not mean that I can ignore the laws of the land,” he said.
Garcia earlier said the Land Transportation and Traffic Code does not prohibit the use of private motorcycles to transport passengers.
She said issuances made by the Land Transportation Office cannot amend an existing law.
Garcia also cited the general welfare clause of the Local Government Code, where she can exercise powers, especially during calamities and emergencies.
Before she issued Executive Order 19, Garcia said her team studied Republic Act 4136 or the Land Transportation and Traffic Code and Supreme Court rulings on back-riding.
But both the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-EID) and the Department of Transportation (DOTr) have prohibited pillion riding on motorcycles since it does not allow physical distancing, one of the health measures seen to stop the spread of the coronavirus disease.
Several mayors, including City Mayor Edgardo Labella, have appealed to the DOTr and IATF-EID to reconsider its policy on motorcycle back-riding considering the lack of public transportation while under community quarantine.
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