Editorial: Angkas and habal-habal

ONE should give it to Cebu City Mayor Tomas Osmeña for taking the cudgels for Angkas in the dialogue between the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) and Angkas and habal-habal drivers last Tuesday in Quezon City. Now the LTFRB knows not only the cons but also the pros on the operation of the habal-habal and its improved version, the Angkas.

In the end, though, everything would be up to Congress because the problem is not about viability and need but the law. Republic Act 4136 or the Land Transportation and Traffic Code allows only the private use of motorcycles. Which means that if Angkas and habal-habals were to be allowed to operate, Congress needs to amend the law. Now, that takes time to accomplish.

There is logic to that imposition. Two-wheel vehicles are by their nature more dangerous to use than the four-wheel variety. But some realities make that more of an ideal than practical. One is the lack of public utility vehicles especially in neglected or hard-to-reach routes like the uplands. In the urban areas, traffic congestion has made the use of motorcycles popular.

It thus didn’t take long for motorcycles to become an important, though illegal, part of the public transport system. More so because in recent years, motorcycles have become cheap and easy to procure. Attempts to clamp down on their operation failed mainly because, despite the “dangers,” these are being patronized.

Angkas is an attempt to improve and legitimize habal-habal operation, but like what usually happens in the crafting of policies by the government, practice outpaces official action. In a way, the firm that put up the Angkas app has pushed the Department of Transportation, and hopefully Congress, to review the logic of the provisions of RA 4136 on the use of motorcycles mainly for private transport.

Interestingly, the term “habal-habal” is of Cebuano origin, which could mean that Cebuanos are the early and major patronizers of this mode of public transport. Perhaps Cebuano lawmakers can take the lead in reviewing the provisions of RA 4136 in relation to the operation of Angkas and habal-habal and act on the findings accordingly.
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