CLARK, PAMPANGA – Amid the implementation of a Temporary Restraining Order (TRO) pending the final ruling of the Supreme Court (SC) on law enforcement operations against motorcycles for hire, Department of Transportation (DOTr) Secretary Arthur Tugade instructed various agencies to form a Technical Working Group (TWG) to discuss issues attendant to the prospect of two-wheel vehicles operating as public transport.
The TWG will be comprised of representatives from the DOTr, Land Transportation Office (LTO), Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB), Philippine National Police – Highway Patrol Group (PNP-HPG), Metro Manila Development Authority (MMDA), Senate, House of Representatives, commuter welfare groups, road safety advocates, motorcycle manufacturers, motorcycle organizations, and law schools.
The said TWG aims to discuss the appropriate standards and capacities of a motorcycle and its driver for public transportation service. These include determining the proper type of motorcycle that can be granted a franchise, the minimum Cubic Centimeter (CC) capacity of motor, travel speed of motorcycle taxis, franchise route, seat and helmet requirements, and training requirements for motorcycle bikers looking to register as a Public Utility Vehicle driver.
The TWG will also discuss regulatory concerns on accountability for passenger safety in the event of an accident.
“We understand that a number of Filipinos patronize motorcycles as public transport, but we should remember that there is a law against this, and the Supreme Court has issued a TRO. The law is the law, and the executive will not be the first to break it. But we at the DOTr know how to listen. So even if the SC has yet to issue a final ruling, we are already forming a TWG to study the prospect of motorcycles serving as public transportation,” Secretary Tugade said.
On December 5, the SC slapped a TRO on the previous preliminary injunction issued by the Mandaluyong Regional Trial Court (RTC) Branch 213 that favored continuing Angkas operations. The TRO effectively allows the resumption of law enforcement operations against Angkas bikers which, by law, are considered colorum.
The DOTr and its attached agencies maintain adherence to Republic Act No. 4136, or the "Land Transportation and Traffic Code," which mandates that two-wheel vehicles cannot engage in business or offer public transport.
“Let us talk about what solutions can be reached. What should be the guidelines? Will all kinds of motorcycles be allowed? What is the minimum requirement? Will motorcycle taxis be allowed on all roads, or should we limit them to secondary roads, or areas plied less by bigger vehicles such as buses or trucks?” Secretary Tugade pointed out.
“Another aspect is safety. How do we ensure the safety of the passengers? Should the motorcycle taxi crash while a passenger is on board, who will shoulder all expenses? If the driver himself is injured or dies, what is the motorcycle owner’s accountability? All these should be thoroughly studied,” the Transportation Secretary added.