A GROUP of motorela operators and drivers is accusing the City Government of Cagayan de Oro of covertly putting in place measures that will make them vulnerable to arrests by traffic law enforcers.
Sonny Hinosolango, lead convenor of the alliance of 10 motorela groups in the city, said they were made to sign a document from the Business Permits and Licensing Division (BPLD) as they were working on the requirements for the renewal of permits for their motorelas.
Hinosolango said they were made to sign a document called the “Oath of Undertaking Motorela Re-Registration and Re-Numbering" which compels motorela operators to agree to operate only on a specified route and not ply along the national highways except across it; to not transcend boundaries at any time; to observe traffic rules; to not duplicate motorela units; to wear IDs when driving; and to not allow top loading on the unit.
He said failure to sign the document can be used against the operators and cited as a reason for the cancellation of permits.
Hinolosango said they were shocked upon reading the document, pointing out that this particular process was not explained to them during seminars and consultations.
"When I asked other operators and drivers, they too did not understood. Does this mean they can arrest us easily if we sign it," Hinosolango said.
The group called the move ‘anti-people’ as it meant burdens operators and drivers.
The group said they shouldn't be prohibited to operate only on a specified route and be allowed to transcend boundaries especially during emergencies. Hinolosango said passengers, especially those selling vegetables to the market, would also be upset with the prohibition of "top loading".
"It is an additional burden for us with these new rules, such as requiring us to remove the route board, bumper, carrier, repaint and above all, requiring us to change the form of our motorelas even though there is no official design of the vehicle," Hinosolango said.
The group got the support of Solidarity of Transport Alliance in Northern Mindanao-Pinagkaisang Samahan ng mga Tsuper at Operator Nationwide (Starex-Piston) to fight the unjust regulations.
Ringo Lago, Starex-Piston secretary-general urges all motorela drivers and operators "to speak up and stand up against the unnecessary burden that the city is imposing to the poor transport groups".
Lago also hit the inaction of the City Council to hear the petition of the motorela operators and drivers to increase the fares. The City Council committee on public utilities was supposed to meet with the motorela groups last March 22, but committee chair Councilor Teodulfo Lao said they had to reschedule because they were caught up with the holy week.
Lao said the hearing is scheduled anytime this week.
City Administrator Teddy Sabuga-a, for his part said motorela operators and drivers took part in the renumbering process.
Sabuga-a said all of the prohibitions indicated in the document are all "standard and already established" and are in fact stipulated in the city ordinance.
"What was stipulated there are not new rules, these are old rules, and they are just being reminded especially because the renewal process of the motorela plates are only being done once in every 10 years," Sabuga-a said.
The concurrent head of the City Social Welfare and Development Office (CSWD) also said these rules were mentioned repeatedly in seminars with motorela operators and drivers.
"What was stipulated there are pretty much common sense, of course you are not allowed to traverse the national highway, you are not allowed to go around in an area that is not your specified route, and motorelas are there to ferry passengers and not for heavy cargoes," he added.
Sabuga-a said the renewal of motorela plates was done to drive away colorum motorelas and update the list and information of the owners of the said transportation.
There are over 2,000 motorelas in the city. This kind of transportation is regulated by the city government.
"It's surprising we just heard of this complaint now, because we hear nothing in seminars that we conducted," he said.
Sabuga-a urged the group to go to City Hall for a dialogue with city officials and iron out the motorela operators' concerns.