Transportation Undersecretary for Road Transport and Infrastructure Thomas Orbos was trying to highlight the importance of the ceremonial signing of a memorandum of agreement on a united toll payment in Luzon on Friday, September 15, when he told fellow officials led by his boss, road operators, and the media what he had to do to get there on time.
Litte did he know that his anecdote would cause Transportation Secretary Arthur Tugade’s temper to flare up, and lead to a public shaming of sorts.
In his opening speech, Orbos said he was compeled to he ride a habal-habal, an unregulated motorbike taxi, to make it to their 7 am call time.
“I cannot tell you how important this is to our dear Secretary Tugade. Not only we were asked to be here at 7 am, of which I have to go to another meeting at 9 am. He asked that we should all be here. So, lo and behold, ladies and gentlemen, I am here. It is my first time to ride a habal-habal – just to be here,” Orbos said at the event.
His anecdote was funny to most others in the room but certainly not to his boss, who berated Orbos in front of the crowd.
“I was really bothered, if not alarmed, by the statement of Undersecretary Orbos. Putangina! Naghabal-habal siya! Bawal ho ang habal-habal sa kalsada (Son of a bitch! He rode an unregulated motorbike taxi! Those are not allowed on roads),” Tugade said.
Orbos, former general manager of Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA), then clarified that the motorcycle driver was just passing by when he asked to be dropped off at a hotel in Bonifacio Global City.
Even with the ex-MMDA chief’s explanation, Tugade reminded the public that habal-habals will not be allowed to ply roads “at all costs.”
“I will not tolerate making a function in DOTr as an excuse,” Tugade said before he delivered a speech on the main focus of the event – toll interoperability.
Motorbikes as public transport
“We should not – at all cost – allow the use of habal-habal.…I’m sorry I just have to say that because that is not along the line and paradigm of the government functions of DOTr,” he added.
In January 2016, the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) ordered GrabBike, a transport service using motorcycles or bikes, to cease operations until the regulator has promulgated guidelines to authorize the service.
Citing the 2015 World Health Organization road safety report, the LTFRB said more than half or 53% of those who die in road accidents in the Philippines are motorcycle riders.
The LTFRB also cited a leading builder of Japanese motorcycles and motorcycle parts, which says motorcycle accidents ranked 4th as the top causes of death in the Philippines.
Motorbikes used as public transport aren’t covered by the new department order on transport network vehicle services (TNVS) like Uber. Only four-wheeled vehicles are covered by TNVS.
Until the government decides whether it will set up new rules for motorbike services, two-wheeled vehicles used as public transport will remain barred from the streets in Metro Manila. — Rappler.com