Thursday, March 1, 2012

Basta Tricycle Driver, Talaga Bang Sweet Lover?

Basta driver, sweet lover--You often would see a bumper sticker bearing the same catchphrase on the interior of public transportation, like tricycles. It was even made into a movie, having, of course, the same title. Tricycles, as the name suggests, are three-wheeled vehicles, consisting of a “side-car” welded onto a motorcycle. Tricycles have been a popular mode of transportation in the Philippines to address the various needs of different people.

Regulation. LTFRB is the governmental agency that has been generally tasked to regulate the franchising and operations of public, "for hire", utility vehicles. Tricycles, however, are not within the jurisdiction of the LTFRB, but rather the appropriate local government, to wit:

The Department of Transportation and Communications9 ("DOTC"), through the LTO and the LTFRB, has since been tasked with implementing laws pertaining to land transportation. The LTO is a line agency under the DOTC whose powers and functions, pursuant to Article III, Section 4 (d) [1],10 of R.A. No. 4136, otherwise known as Land Transportation and Traffic Code, as amended, deal primarily with the registration of all motor vehicles and the licensing of drivers thereof. The LTFRB, upon the other hand, is the governing body tasked by E.O. No. 202, dated 19 June 1987, to regulate the operation of public utility or "for hire" vehicles and to grant franchises or certificates of public convenience ("CPC").11 Finely put, registration and licensing functions are vested in the LTO while franchising and regulatory responsibilities had been vested in the LTFRB.

Under the Local Government Code, certain functions of the DOTC were transferred to the LGUs, thusly:

Sec. 458. Powers, Duties, Functions and Compensation. —

x x x x x x x x x

(3) Subject to the provisions of Book II of this Code, enact ordinances granting franchises and authorizing the issuance of permits or licenses, upon such conditions and for such purposes intended to promote the general welfare of the inhabitants of the city and pursuant to this legislative authority shall:

x x x x x x x x x

(VI) Subject to the guidelines prescribed by the Department of Transportation and Communications, regulate the operation of tricycles and grant franchises for the operation thereof within the territorial jurisdiction of the city. (Emphasis supplied).

LGUs indubitably now have the power to regulate the operation of tricycles-for-hire and to grant franchises for the operation thereof. "To regulate" means to fix, establish, or control; to adjust by rule, method, or established mode; to direct by rule or restriction; or to subject to governing principles or laws. (Land Transportation Office vs. Butuan, G.R. No. 131512)

With the power of the LGUs to "regulate" also comes the power to enact legislation to that effect.

MMC Ordinance No. 6. Enacted as early as 1990 by the now defunct Metro Manila Council, this local legislation's objective to limit the operation of tricycle "within the local tertiary roads and subdivision roads" and exclude them from major thorough fares (see Article). The main objective was "to protect the lives of not only the pedicab and tricycle drivers but also their passengers."

Bawal ang tricycle sa Katipunan. As part of the implementation of MMC Ordinance No. 6, tricycles were banned from Katipunan and C-5. The road stretching from the Katipunan flyover until C.P. Garcia Avenue is considered a “highway” and is frequented by large freight trucks going to and from Marikina Pier. It is, therefore, logical to ban small motor vehicles like tricycles from traversing such area. You will actually see signs posted in various areas of Katipunan Ave., intimating that tricycles are indeed banned from said road:

As simple the sign maybe and the message it impart, it seems that following it is more complex than one might expect.

Basta tricycle driver, matigas ang ulo. Despite the existence of a valid local legislation and even visible reminders across the highway, some people seem to believe that they are above the law. Tricycles continue to navigate through and fro Katipunan Ave.

It is one thing that they are not respecting the ban. It is another issue if, in addition to their obvious insubordination, they also violate simple traffic rules. Take swerving, as an example. Car drivers who would make an abrupt lateral movement from one lane to another would be ticketed for a swerving violation. But why is it that if tricycles do it, no one could even admonish them?

Tricycle swerving from the La Vista U-turn slot (inner lane) to the third outermost lane.

Tricycles might be under the jurisdiction of the LGUs, but such LGUs would dare not impose such restrictive ordinances upon lowly tricycle drivers, in the fear of losing a few votes in the next election. This might be the reason why certain LGUs have consistently pushed for a moratorium of MMC No. 6 or the lifting of the total ban.

Total ban, impractical. Dangers posed by the continued operation of tricycles along Katipunan cannot be ignored, both from putting small tricycles alongside large trucks and fast cars, and unregulated yet recurring traffic violations by tricycle drivers. But since Katipunan Ave. is the main artery that services not only residential areas, like Xavierville, but also Ateneo de Manila University, it also cannot be denied that there is a need that these tricycles actually address. Banning them will somehow paralyze both students and residents who rely on public transportation to get to or from their destination, where other modes of public transportation are not available. And, of course, the ban would also have an adverse effect on the livelihood of the tricycle drivers. This might be the reason why the tricycle ban has incons

I am all for giving the tricycle drivers a continuous source of income. But is it asking for too much to expect basic traffic and road courtesy from them? Don’t swerve. Don’t just steer in between cars. Keep distance. Use hand signals. That’s all. Is it really that hard? It's time that they hold true to their image, as what those bumper stickers so candidly say.

Ma. Eliza Christine Gomez, Entry #11

Previous posts: #1, #2, #3, #4, #5, #6, #7, #8, #9, #10

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