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Netizens Poke Fun At Motorcycle Back-riding Only For Married Couples, Roque’s ‘Dance With COVID-19’ Remark

Netizens Poke Fun At Motorcycle Back-riding Only For Married Couples, Roque’s ‘Dance With COVID-19’ Remark
A woman rides on the back of a motorcycle traversing Jose Abad Santos Avenue corner Tayuman in Tondo, Manila on July 9, 2020. Photo by Russell Palma, The Philippine STAR

The government’s announcement that only legally married couples can ride together in motorcycles beginning today, July 10, received bashing from netizens.

On Thursday, July 9, Department of the Interior and Local Government Secretary Eduardo Año said that back-riding would be allowed for couples “living in the same household, whether they are married or they are common-law husband and wife, or boyfriend and girlfriend.”

Later, in a press briefing, presidential spokesman Harry Roque clarified that back-riding would be allowed only for married couples who can show proof that they are living under roof.

Roque also said the couples must comply with minimum health standards and the mandatory use of protective shields for back-riding to avoid physical contact between the driver and his passenger amid the coronavirus disease 2019 pandemic.

“The couple must abide with minimum public health standards, such as wearing face masks and helmet, and follow the speed limits,” he noted.

Roque reiterated that the new regulation to be released today, Friday, will cover only married couples.

The new guidelines will not cover the operations of motorcycle-riding apps such as Angkas as the franchise has already lapsed.

The Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseaseas approved in principle motorcycle back-riding for private individuals on June 19 under Resolution No. 47.

Asked why other people with family ties such as a father and son could not ride in tandem, Roque said the public clamor initially came from married couples only.

Read more: DILG Suggestion: Convert Motorcycles In Lieu of Back-riding

Netizens questioned the policy, pointing out that family members typically stay under one roof where physical distancing is obviously not required.

On Facebook, a page called Share Mo Lang with 627,238 followers posted a photo of a couple carrying a framed wedding photo while on board a motorcycle. This went viral after it was shared 33,000 times. The photo, which was captioned “Hello po… pwedi na ba ito?” also garnered more than 18,000 reactions.

The comments mostly poked fun at the fact that couples who even sleep on the same bed, as Cavite Gov. Jonvic Remulla earlier pointed out, could not have physical contact while riding a motorcycle.

In imposing the back-riding ban even among relatives since the start of the quarantine, officials had explained that it would be a nightmare to check every motorcycle with two riders for verification of family relations. Back-riding only for couples is seen as a compromise for now.

Roque said the couple can present identification cards and and photocopy of their marriage contract to the authorities. “Sa ngayon po talaga, ang naparating sa akin ni Secretary An~o at Secretary Galvez, limitado po sa mga mag-asawa,” he said referring to An~o and National Task Force Against COVID-19 chief implementer Carlito Galvez Jr.

Roque gets bashed, too

Roque himself also bared on Thursday that he was ridiculed on social media for his remark about “dancing” along with the pandemic. Roque explained that his statement was not literal and that he was referring to a theory on the virus that went viral online recently.

Roque said he was referring to “Coronavirus: The Hammer and the Dance” theory, which was proposed by French-Spanish writer and engineer Tomas Pueyo.

“Many were asking why I mentioned dancing along with COVID-19. That’s not literal, come on. Many did not get what I was saying. I became the subject of memes and my TikTok videos were revived,” Roque said in a press briefing.

“We have what is now called the hammer and dance theory on how we are fighting COVID,” he explained.

Quoting Pueyo, Roque said hammer refers to the imposition of lockdowns to reduce the spread of the coronavirus disease 2019. It also involves the recruitment of health personnel to treat those who were infected by COVID-19, he added.

Roque said dance refers to the reopening of the economy once the threat of the disease is reduced. To do this, there should be proper testing, contract tracing, quarantine and isolation.

“We will also have public education on hygiene and social distancing. We will continue to ban gatherings although in MGCQ (modified general community quarantine) areas, up to 50 percent capacity (of the venues) may be filled up,” Roque said, referring to the most lenient quarantine scenario.

In his online article, Pueyo said governments should implement strict measures to contain the virus until a vaccine is developed. He said measures like contact tracing and quarantine of infected persons should continue even if countries ease lockdowns.

“As the economy reopens... the responsibility will go to LGUs,” Roque said, referring to local government units. “They will impose the local lockdown. The private sector will handle the information drive, strict enforcement and testing of their employees. The people should wear masks and observe social distancing.”

Last month, Roque drew flak when he exulted that the country had “won” because the number of COVID-19 cases did not reach 40,000 by the end of June as predicted by University of the Philippines experts. He later clarified that UP is not the enemy and that he was just telling the people that they could do something to contain the virus.

The Philippines now has more than 50,000 COVID-19 cases.

In the same briefing, Roque said the government has allocated P4.99 million for the clinical studies on convalescent plasma therapy for COVID-19.

The Department of Science and Technology – Philippine Council for Health Research and Development and the UP–Philippine General Hospital is undertaking a project, which aims to evaluate the efficacy and safety of convalescent plasma transfusion as adjunctive therapy to prevent disease progression among patients.