Should LGUs regulate habal-habal, motorcycle ride-sharing apps?
MANILA, Philippines – Should Philippine laws be amended to allow local government units (LGUs), instead of national government, to impose standards on modes of transportation like the ubiquitous habal-habal (motocrycle-for-hire)?
It was a suggestion raised by lawmakers on Wednesday, January 24, as the House committees on transportation and public order and safety held a hearing on the possible regulation of “habal-habal,” the colloquial term of motorcycles used as a means of public transportation.
Current laws on public transportation do not make mention of motorcycles, leading to the suspension of operations for ride-sharing applications like Angkas and GrabBike.
Representatives Raul del Mar and Ramon Durano, both from Cebu province, made the suggestions as the committees began tackling possible revisions to the law.
Cebu City Mayor Tomas Osmeña, a vocal supporter of applications like Angkas, agreed with the sentiment. A former member of the House, the Cebu mayor called on more “autonomy” for LGUs.
“These kind of social experiments cannot be decided in one office here in Metro Manila just by looking at maps and data. You have to go to the people and see how they feel. What we’re really asking for is more local autonomy,” he said during the hearing.
The committee eventually agreed on the creation of a technical working group (TWG) to study and flesh out possible revisions to the law. The technical working group will eventually report to the mother committee, where further revisions and deliberations will take place.
Realities on the ground
During the hearing, Osmeña had pointed out that national government had failed to address the “realities” of life outside of the metro. In far flung areas, for instance, the habal-habal can be the only means of transportation for locals. It’s either that or walking.
Habal-habal in the Philippines can refer to motorcycles that can carry up to 8 passengers without any attachments or those that can carry even more thanks to the installation of makeshift wooden planks.
The Cebu city mayor raised this when a motorcycle safety expert said that it’s recommended that only a maximum of two people ride a motorcycle at once.
“If a mother has to bring her baby to the hospital using the habal-habal, what does she do? Does she tell the driver to bring the baby there first then come back to get her?” he said.
Experts told the committee that ideally, a single motorcycle should carry only a maximum of 150 kilograms. Services like Angkas or GrabBike only allow one passenger for every motorcycle driver.
“They’re not in the mountains, they’re not talking to these farmers who brings the child to school. They cannot do it from the 10th floor of a high rise building. You cannot look at the map and say ‘I know the problem.’ You have to be in the foxhole, you have to be on the field,” said Osmeña, explaining why he wants LGUs to have a higher stake in regulations such as that of public transportation.
Besides, he said, if mistakes are made by one LGU, it can always learn from other who implemented programs better.
Concerns were raised, however, that should LGUs be allowed to impose their own regulations, standards might be too different in different areas. These will all be fleshed out by the TWG.
“You ask for federalism but you’re complaining about our ability to run our own affairs. Let the local government solve their own problems,” added Osmeña.
Congress is current deliberating on possible amendments or revisions to the 1987 Constitution so that the country can shift to a federal form of government. – Rappler.com