"The regulation of motorcycle taxis an imperative for the government."
I cite and quote for this column a petition I signed in my capacity as convenor of Transport Watch, a citizen organization that promotes inclusive mobility. I signed this petition also as a user of motorcycle taxis and as a professor who sees many of my students and fellow professionals use such taxis, provided safely by Angkas, as their principal mode of transportation. I have also noticed that everywhere, commuters in Metro Manila have resorted to this mode of transportation—for the cost or convenience (especially to beat traffic). Because of this, I consider the regulation of motorcycle taxis an imperative that the government must urgently address.
This necessity of proper regulation of motorcycle taxis is particularly relevant as we approach the termination of the pilot period set by the memorandum order of the Department of Transportation (DOTr) for motorcycle taxis to operate in Metro Manila and Metro Cebu. In the petition signed by Jason Salvador for Legal Engagement Advocating for Development and Reform (LEADER), Toix Cerna for KOMYUT, Dr. Grace Gorospe-Jamon for Move Metro Manila, and Attorneys Ariel Inton, Raymond Fortun, and VJ Topacio for the Lawyers for Commuter Safety and Protection (LCSP), and myself for Transport Watch, we call for greater transparency and inclusivity in the next steps being taken by the government on the regulation of this important sector.
We recall our participation a year ago, last December 2018, in a multi-stakeholder technical working group (TWG) convened by the DOTr to look into the possibility of allowing motorcycle taxis to operate. It took six months but, in May 2019, the guidelines were laid out to the public and the TWG was constituted composed of Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) Board Member P/Maj. Gen. Antonio Gardiola Jr. (ret.) as head, together with Land Transportation Office (LTO), the Inter- Agency Council for Traffic (i-ACT), consumers, advocacy groups and other stakeholders, under the strict supervision of the DOTr.
This TWG was tasked to ensure efficiency in the pilot implementation, and present the final report to the House of Representatives and the Senate. The TWG was mandated to monitor the safety of the riders and the riding public using data collected, by Angkas, within a six-month period.
Recent developments in the work of the TWG have alarmed us and made us concerned about the future of motorcycle taxis. I quote verbatim from our petition:
“Despite repeated requests from the sector for the TWG to convene, a secret meeting was conducted, last November 2019, with solely government agencies in attendance, to make an assessment. Hence, the consumers, advocacy groups and other stakeholders, were excluded from decision making. This prompted us to ask for updates from those who were present and pleaded that the complete TWG be convened in the future.
In the said secret meeting, the government members of the TWG decided to extend the pilot period for another six (6) months and allowed the inclusion of other motorcycle taxi applications into the pilot program.
Once again, on Dec. 12, 2019, the government members of the TWG proceeded with another meeting without the consumers, advocacy groups and other stakeholders. Aside from the meeting, they conducted site visits and evaluations of new players into the pilot program.
The repeated exclusion of consumers, advocacy groups and other stakeholders from the TWG meetings shows a lack of transparency and an active effort to deny inclusion of civil society and to fully represent the public interest.
The TWG has made major decisions and even allowed the expansion of the pilot program to other motorcycle taxi applications without genuine consultation. These are decisions that should not be kept from the public.
In line with this, we respectfully urge Congress, both the Senate Committee on Public Services under the chairpersonship of Senator Grace Poe, and the House of Representative Committee on Transportation under the chairpersonship of Rep. Edgar Mary S. Sarmiento to conduct a committee hearing to update the riding public and other stakeholders on the discussions and concessions made during the TWG.
The public hearing will be a positive step toward legislatively addressing the issue of motorcycle taxis, address questions of transparency in the processes, and will provide information to the public of the planned expansion of the pilot currently being run by DOTr.
Due to the urgent nature of the issue, we request that this issue be addressed in the soonest possible period.”
Personally, I am not against having more companies provide the essential service of motorcycle taxis. Competition is a good thing, But we must do this right. If safety concerns are not addressed properly, there will be a backlash on this mode of transportation and we will all suffer because of that.
Let’s do right with motorcycle taxis because that is doing the right by the riding public.
Facebook: Dean Tony La Vina Twitter: tonylavs