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Should motorcycle taxis be legalized?

By: Atty. Ruphil F. Bañoc - CDN Digital | January 24,2020 - 08:42 AM

Recently, I again experienced riding a motorcycle taxi “habal-habal” because of the terrible traffic in Cebu City during the feast of the Santo Niño.

Because of the many rerouting implemented in line with the celebration, I noticed that single motorcycle was the only means of transportation that can ferry a passenger to a place closer to the Basilica Minore del Santo Niño. Other means of transportation could even hardly penetrate in the downtown area.

Such circumstance forced me to take the risk of hiring a motorcycle taxi so that I could attend the novena masses. During the first day of the novena mass, a “habal-habal” driver demanded from me 50 pesos fare from our radio station DYHP RMN Cebu, near the Provincial Capitol Building to the Basilica del Santo Nino. I agreed.

On the second day, I again hired a single motorcycle for the same reason and the same distance, the driver demanded 80 pesos. I tried to negotiate to a lesser fare, but to no avail.

On the third day, a “habal-habal”   driver asked for a 100 pesos fare. I made a counter offer until he settled for 80 pesos. I noticed that such rate is the range of fare by “habal-habal” drivers with the distance I mentioned during the duration of the novena masses.

From Santo Nino, I walked to Colon Street area and took a jeepney in going back to our radio station. I only paid 8 pesos. I cannot stop myself from comparing the disparity of fare.

Also in my observation, almost all drivers of the single motorcycle I hired seem to be not extra careful in driving on a busy road. Being a passenger, I was the one who reminded them to moderate their speed and to be careful, especially in overtaking.

I used to ride a single motorcycle before when I was still in our province in Leyte. I can compare the more risky situation of the single motorcycle for hire here in the city than in the province because of the number of vehicles in the roads.

My observation is consistent with the data given by the PNP, LTO and LTFRB about the risks of a single motorcycle used as public utility vehicles. The number of motorcycle crashes that resulted to death and injury is high as compared to four wheeled vehicle.

Hence, there is an existing law since 1964 that prohibits a motorcycle to be used as public utility vehicles. It is only limited to private use because the amount of diligence required is lesser than in using it to ferry passengers as it requires extraordinary diligence according to transportation laws.

Nevertheless, it has been observed that such law has been relaxed in areas where means of transportation is only single motorcycle like in the mountain areas in the provinces. In fact, many are not aware that it is illegal.

But the situation nowadays in the cities given the heavy traffic, seems that single motorcycle, like in the provinces, the only means to reach one’s destination.

The questions are: Is the existing law not obsolete? Is it still practical and applicable given the present situation of horrible traffic? Does the law need amendments already? If the bill is enacted into law, how should the state regulate the motorcycle taxi? How should the fare be regulated? How should the state ensure that accidents will be minimized?

There is a pending bill in Congress seeking to legalize single motorcycle for hire. The result of the study conducted by the Technical working Group (TWG) of DOTr is very crucial for Congress to approve or not to approve the said law. Hence, they should take their studies seriously.

Considering that public funds are involved in the said research, can TWG publish the result of their studies so the public will know?

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