MOTORCYCLE taxi (motor taxi) drivers in Mandaue City have mixed opinions on the proposed legalization of motorcycles as public utility vehicles (PUVs) as discussed in the Senate.

The Senate Committee on Transportation led by Sen. Grace Poe conducted a committee hearing on Tuesday, May 23, 2023, for Senate Bill 104 seeking to amend the Traffic Code of the Philippines to include the use of motorcycles as PUVs.

Locally known as habal-habal, some motor taxi drivers agreed to the legalization as this ensures passengers’ safety, while other riders feared having stricter riding policies which may hamper their working time and income.

Rafael Bongo, 28, a driver from Barangay Mantuyong and a member of the Mantuyong Black Eagle Riders, told SunStar Cebu on Friday, May 26, that legalization would help them generate more income.

Bongo said he earns around P500 every time he drives his motor taxi, stressing the amount is enough to make his family eat three times a day.

He also noted the safety of his passengers would be prioritized once the proposed bill becomes law.

Jason Tarona, 39, from Barangay Opao of Zamora Riders also agreed habal-habal needs to be legalized but he does not want to register his vehicle with any ride-hailing applications such as Angkas or Grab, which are mulled to be the only way for motor taxis to be legitimate.

“Uyon mi anang ma legal na amung habal-habal diri pero dili sad mi musugot nga iadto mi sa Angkas. Amo lang ang amoa diri ma legalized ang amu grupo”, Tarona said.

(We agree that our habal-habal here should be legalized, but we don’t agree to be part of big ride-hailing companies like Angkas. We just want our group to be legalized.)

Tarona, who earns P500 to P900 daily, explained that they fear they would be restricted, emphasizing that riding companies take a cut in the revenue and riders are given schedules to adhere to.

Both Bongo and Tarona believe the government should implement fixed riding rates for motor taxi drivers to follow.

Fare system

In a separate interview, commuter, Kath Mendoza, 32, from Barangay Centro who works at a call center in Cebu City, said motor taxis should be legalized so that no driver can overcharge.

Mendoza experienced habal-habal drivers taking advantage of passengers by charging unreasonably expensive fares because of a lack of standard rates, unlike other PUVs.

Mario Lanuya, 25, from Barangay Pagsabungan who work as a merchandiser in Barangay Centro said having legalized motorcycles as PUVs would help him get a ride faster so he would not be late for work.

City Councilor Jimmy Lumapas, chairman of the City’s committee on transportation said on Friday that the proposal is a big advantage to workers, who rely on motor taxis to get to work.

According to the Traffic Enforcement Agency Of Mandaue, there are roughly 800 habal-habal drivers in Mandaue City, while 600 drivers from other local government units (LGUs) transit the city regularly.

The traffic incidents involving motorcycles in Mandaue this year have increased to 285 as of March from 153 incidents for the same month last year.

The Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board on Wednesday, May 24, encouraged motor taxi operators, particularly in provinces, to join the pilot study for motorcycle taxis.

Senator Poe, who presided over the Senate hearing for motorcycles-for-hire, said the results of the Department of Transportation pilot study on the viability of motorcycle taxis which started in 2019 can be used as a basis for legislation.

“After more than four years of continuous studies by the technical working group (TWG), it now appears, without a doubt, that commuters are overwhelmingly in favor of legalizing motorcycles taxis,” Poe said.

Poe added that the TWG survey reports 96 percent of motorcycle taxi passengers believed that government should allow motorcycle taxis.