MANILA -- The Department of Transportation (DOTr) has appealed for more time to review the issue of legalizing motorcycles-for-hire as a mode of public transportation.
This, as the DOTr reiterated that amendments to Republic Act (RA) No. 4136 or the Land Transportation and Traffic Code are needed to allow motorcycles to operate as public transport.
The law prohibits motorcycles from operating as public transportation services.
The DOTr has maintained that the best recourse for conversion of motorcycle taxis to public transport is amendment of the law. In fact, this lack of an enabling law is best reiterated by the various proposed bills in the House (of Representatives) and the Senate seeking to allow motorcycle taxis to operate as a public transport mode, the department said in a statement on Saturday.
Transportation Secretary Arthur Tugade has ordered the creation of a technical working group (TWG) to review the issue of allowing motorcycles for public transportation.
The TWG was mandated to conduct deliberations on various issues covering the capability of motorcycles and drivers for public transport service, which include determining the types of motorcycle that can be awarded a franchise, the minimum cubic centimeter (CC) capacity, travel speed, franchise routes, seat and helmet requirements, and training requirements for motorcycle bikers looking to register as a public utility vehicle driver.
Much as it understands the perspective of some lawmakers on the issue of motorcycle taxis operating as public transport, the DOTr also seeks public understanding as its TWG threshes out the numerous concerns involved in the proposal, foremost of which is commuter safety, the DOTr said.
Various lawmakers have called on the DOTr to issue a department order (DO) that would allow motorcycle ride-hailing firms to provide public transport to passengers.
They have noted that the transportation department has issued an order in 2015, which introduced the category of transportation network vehicle services (TNVS) that allowed private vehicles under transportation network companies to operate as public transportation.
The DOTr said issuing a DO to legalize motorcycles-for-hire should be based on existing laws.
According to Republic Act 4136 (Land Transportation and Traffic Code), passenger automobiles may be classified as either private or public ('for hire'), depending on its purpose. Thus, although TNVS units were initially classified as private vehicles, their transition to public transport only required a conversion to another classification. On the other hand, RA 4136 clearly does not allow motorcycles to be classified as 'for hire' or for public utility, the department's statement read.
The DOTr said that issuance of a DO will violate the temporary restraining order issued by the Supreme Court against motorcycle ride-hailing firm Angkas to halt its operations last December, which might lead to filing of contempt charges against transportation officials.
The DOTr wishes to reiterate that it does not intend to antagonize Angkas. In fact, the DOTr has welcomed motorcycle groups in TWG discussions to thresh out the requirements and other contingent issues. These issues are ultimately directed at regulation for passenger safety and nothing else, it said.
The TWG, consisting of the DOTr, Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB), Land Transportation Office, Philippine National Police - Highway Patrol Group, Metro Manila Development Authority, and representatives of the Senate, House of Representatives, commuter welfare groups, road safety advocates, motorcycle manufacturers, motorcycle organizations and law schools, has started its deliberations last January 18.
The group will submit a report on its deliberations to Congress as inputs for lawmakers to decide on the proposed amendments to RA 4136.
The House has approved on second reading a bill that will allow motorcycles to provide public transport earlier this week.
House Bill No. 8959 or the Motorcycles for Hire Act will authorize the LTFRB to legalize the operation of motorcycles as public utility vehicles.
Under the bill, motorcycles must be registered and granted a certificate of public convenience or special permit by the LTFRB. (PNA)
Source: Philippines News Agency