Espinoza: Dissolve TWG; let Senate do public hearing

Free Zone

THE failure of the Technical Working Group (TWG) of the Land Transportation and Franchising Board (LTFRB) and the Department of Transportation (DoTr) to provide data to the Senate committee on public services that conducted a hearing, which will be the basis for Congress to pass a law legalizing motorcycle taxis as a mode of public transportation, strongly indicates that they did not perform their task as expected.

Instead, the TWG only made a sweeping recommendation to the Senate committee not to legalize the motorcycle taxi, which is popularly known as “habal-habal” in the Visayas and Mindanao and the fast and practical means of transportation in places not yet serviced by the public utility bus (PUB) or the public utility jeeps (PUJ).

The TWG could not even provide the Senate committee on public services counter-proof to the evidence provided by Angkas that it is 99 percent safe as a mode of public transportation. Angkas, a company that provided a hailing app for motorcycle taxi, proposes to the DoTr to legalize and professionalize the motorcycle as a mode of public transportation.

The Senate and the lower house need the right data from TWG so that the legislators have the right basis to amend the provision of RA 4136 or the Land Transportation and Traffic Code that disallows the use of motorcycle as a public transport even if this two-wheeled vehicle has been in existence long before I came to age of reason.

Sen. Grace Poe, chair of the committee on public services, told the TWG headed by Antonio Gardiola, Jr. to expect more legal actions from the stakeholders if TWG will terminate the pilot study on allowing motorcycles as a mode of public transportation. The TWG’s lame excuse is that legal impediments prevented them from gathering the data.

With the resources of TWG, it would not be difficult for them to gather data from the police, the Highway Patrol, and in Metro Manila Development Authority (MMDA) on the accidents caused or due to the recklessness of the drivers of Angkas or habal-habal. They could have interviewed those who regularly ride motorcycles-for-hire in their daily activities on their experiences.

Yesterday, the LTRFB announced that it will start apprehending Angkas. What about those “habal-habal” that are neither registered nor affiliated with Angkas, will they also apprehend them? They tried apprehending habal-habal drivers before, but they were only good for a few days, and after that habal-habals were back on the road. Some of their drivers don’t observe the traffic laws, rules and regulations.

The very purpose of legalizing the motorcycles-for-hire is to regulate and to provide the riding public, especially these days wherein traffic in the metropolis is bad if not worse, an affordable, fast and safe mode of two-wheel public transportation.

The TWG in their study, if they made one, should have considered the necessity of this type of transportation in places not reachable by PUJs or PUBs. In fact, the TWG should also recommend to Congress to amend not only the provision in RA 4136, which became a law on June 20, 1964, that deemed illegal the use of motorcycles as public transportation, but also the provisions on penalties for traffic violation where the rate or amount has become irrelevant or peanuts, so to speak, to traffic violators.

The DoTr should better dissolve the TWG because of its inutility to provide the Senate committee on public services the right data. Instead, let the senate committee on public services conduct public hearings in places where habal-habal is the popular mode of transportation and afford the riding public the opportunity to be heard.


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