Lawmaker pushes for motorcycles to operate as taxis

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, August 16) — A lawmaker says he will be backing the call to have motorcycles recognized as a mode of public transportation.

Speaking to CNN Philippines' On the Record Thursday, Quezon City Representative Winston Castelo said it was unfortunate that the government agency tasked to ease traffic congestion in the Metro is the same one contributing to the problem by not allowing this other mode of transportation.

Castelo, who is chairman of the House Committee on Metro Manila Development said, "As you all know, the state of transport system in Metro Manila now is so bleak, it's dying. It's in the ICU right now."

READ: PH loses P3.5B a day due to Metro Manila traffic - JICA

Motorcycle taxis would be a great benefit for people in Metro Manila, Castelo said, because they were more agile and could be easier to manipulate in the streets.

"I think the DOTr (Department of Transportation) has not yet realized that it would also contribute in unlocking the traffic," he said.

Apart from easing road congestion, Castelo said motorcycle taxis would also provide economic opportunities for Filipinos.

David Medrama, head of Operations for Angkas, said their riders have been without jobs since they were shut down in November 2017.

Castelo said he has not stood idly by as issues concerning traffic congestion and passenger inconveniences piled up.

"There are a lot of committee meetings and the Committee on Transportation headed by (Catanduanes Representative) Cesar Sarmiento and my committee, however it has fallen on deaf ears," he said.

Castelo said a simple amendment to the  Land Transportation and Regulatory Board's (LTFRB) Department Order No. 2015-11 would allow motorcycle taxis to operate. Under the order, currently only cars, SUVs, AUVs, and vans can be considered as transport network vehicle services.

Ariel Inton, former LTFRB Board Member, said the new department order provides that motorcycles cannot be vehicles-for-hire. However, the push to have them recognized as a mode of public transportation began much earlier.

"As early as 2008, there are already bills already  filed in Congress - Motorcylces for hire act filed and the furthest that it reached was a third reading," he said.

That it went that far in the House of Representatives, Inton said, meant that congressmen were also open to the idea.

"The reason why motorcycles-for-hire are not allowed is because they are registered as private. And the general rule is if a vehicle is registered as private, it cannot be for hire," he added.

But Inton pointed out that LTFRB has already relaxed the rules, giving franchises to private cars under Grab and Uber.

Medrana said, based on their survey, motorcycles-for-hire have been operating unregulated in Metro Manila since 2000.

"For the past 18 years, they have been doing rides or services daily. Up to a certain point...any delay in regulations, we are putting the passengers and drivers at risk since there is no measure of protection, no safety cover," he said.

Angkas, he said, has provided all the necessary safety precautions, driver/rider protective gear, and training necessary.

However, should the LTFRB decide to make the amendment, Mardana said they were ready to operate "right away."

"As chairman of the Committee on Metro Manila Development, we will exercise the maximum of our legislative power, the oversight function of our office, so that we will urge now the DOTr to lift the restriction in not regulating the motorcycle taxis," Castelo said.


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