“Special suits” worn by drivers might lead to the return of motorcycle taxis on Philippine roads, Presidential Spokesman Harry Roque said in a virtual presser at Malacañang Palace today.
The Department of Health (DOH) is studying the said suits, which were given by ride-hailing platform Angkas to their drivers. The suits would presumably allow drivers to transport passengers without getting infected with COVID-19.
“Angkas has volunteered a special suit that their bikers can wear. But the [DOH] is still studying if that suit will be sufficient to more or less provide distancing of sorts,” Roque said in English and Filipino.
The spokesman did not say when the result of the DOH’s study will become available.
The Duterte government has banned riding pillion on motorbikes, insisting that sitting in close contact could lead to the spread of the coronavirus. Even spouses are not allowed to ride a motorcycle together, much to the public’s dismay. It is for this same reason that motor taxis have not been operational since March when the lockdowns were first imposed.
Meanwhile, Roque said that traditional jeepneys may be allowed to ply Metro Manila’s roads if they are shown to be “roadworthy”– but he did not elaborate nor expand on what this means. The spokesman added that buses and public utility vehicles outweigh traditional jeepneys and tricycles, both of which, he believes, are at the bottom of a public transport “hierarchy.”
That sounds a little classist, no?
“Our strategy in public transportation is calibrated, partial, and in phases…We have what we call a hierarchy of transport modes. The traditional PUJs [public utility jeepneys] is at the bottom [of the list],” Roque said.
Editor’s Note: The original version of the article has been updated to provide more details about the suit.
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