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Lawmaker seeks legalization of ‘habal-habal’

Deputy Speaker Luis Raymund Villafuerte
Deputy Speaker Luis Raymund F. Villafuerte Jr.

A leader of the House of Representatives on Sunday called for the swift passage of a house bill that seeks to legalize motorcycles-for-hire, or habal-habal, as a mode of public transportation nationwide.

Deputy Speaker Luis Raymund F. Villafuerte Jr. said he believes doing so “would ease Filipino commuters’ woes amid worsening traffic conditions” in the country, particularly in the metropolis.

Villafuerte made the appeal after a second app-based motorcycle ride-hailing platform, Joyride, requested to join the six-month trial run to be public transport provider from the Department of Transportation (DOTr).

Under House Bill  4652, where Villafuerte is principal author, the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) would require motorcycle service providers “to obtain insurance coverage for their drivers and their passengers, as well as insurance to cover third-party liabilities.”

Furthermore, the DOTr would be mandated “to prescribe the routes and require the establishment of terminals for these motorcycles,” the lawmaker said.

“[The] No. 1 priority in transporting people is the safety and welfare of the passengers and the driver. In welcoming a new age of public transportation, this bill seeks to set the groundwork to make motorcycles safe and secure for the riding public and the operators,” Villafuerte said.

“[This] would start the framework for quality assurance among motorcycles for hire, give commuters  an alternative  for  a mode  of transportation and ensure a safe road for everyone,” he added.

HB  4652 seeks to amend  Section 3 and 7 of Republic Act (RA) 4136 “to include motorcycle-for-hire in the definition of terms and in the classification of vehicles that would be required for registration with the LTFRB,” he said.

The bill, if passed into law, would legitimize habal-habal as a mode of public transportation in the country, which are currently operating in Metro Manila, Cebu, General Santos and Cagayan de Oro, Villafuerte added.

Under HB 4652, for-hire motorcycles are declared as common carriers “for purposes of determining the liability and degree of diligence that must be observed in the course of transporting passengers or goods, and the presumption of negligence in breach of contract shall, likewise, apply to them.”

The LTFRB and the Land Transportation Office (LTO) are tasked to ensure the road-worthiness of motorcycles-for-hire before registration or renewal of registration, Villafuerte said.

The bill would also mandate the LTFRB “prescribe, approve and periodically review and adjust” reasonable fares, rates, and other related charges for the operation of motorcycles-for-hire.

“To further ensure safety, no modifications shall be made on motorcycles-for-hire, except the installation, based on safe engineering design specifications, of motorcycle luggage carrier, saddlebag, step board or foot peg and appropriate speed limiter and monitoring device,” the bill read.

The bill said the LTFRB may allow motorcycles-for-hire to choose and use online ride-hailing platforms or prearranged transportation platforms, accredited by the proper government agency under the applicable laws and rules and regulations. The bill said the caveat is “such online ride-hailing platforms or prearranged transportation platforms shall provide a fare estimator that enables users to estimate the cost of a trip, and issue an electronic receipt afterwards,” it added. 

Image credits: Dreamstime, congress.gov.ph



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