UNITY. Different motorcycle groups ride in protest along Commonwealth Ave. Photo by Gerard Carreon/Rappler.
MANILA, Philippines — Last August 9, over 2,000 riders traveled from Commonwealth to Quezon City Memorial Circle to call for motorcycle-taxi regulation.
Dubbed as the “Unity Ride,” the peaceful protest was staged by transport advocacy group Transport Watch together with various motorcycle groups such as Riders of the Philippines (ROTP), the Motorcycle Rights Organization (MRO), the ARANGKADA Riders Alliance, and several other motorcycle groups and concerned riders.
The Unity Ride is the second in a series of peaceful rallies held in response to what motorcycle riders refer to as the government's inaction towards the crafting of an acceptable motorcycle taxi policy and “unfair” motorcycle regulations.
Right to ride
Motorcycles have long carried a stigma of supposedly being unsafe. In recent years, this negative image has been aggravated all the more by government pressure.
Aside from discriminatory and risky ordinances banning helmets and tandem riding, the administration has focused on cracking down on motorcycles for hire or habal-habal since last year. This includes the suspension of motorcycle-sharing app Angkas.
The Unity Ride is a direct response to these developments. Motorcycle groups are calling for the immediate regulation and inclusion of motorcycle taxis to the Transport Network Vehicle Service (TNVS) sector.
"Motorcycle riders only want to be treated with respect and dignity on the streets and in society as a whole," Transport Watch convenor George Royeca pointed out. "They just want to use their motorcycles to earn a living for their family and yet they receive no support from the government and are even treated like criminals," he added.
Royeca further noted that motorcycles are an important part of national development. "They give jobs to millions of Filipinos yet they are regarded by our laws as illegal. That is not right,” he stressed.
For his part, David Medrana, Operations Head of Angkas, stated that despite the government ban, they still support the legislative process. "We are here to give our full support to efforts to come up with the proper legislation for motorcycle taxis. We are willing to lend our understanding of the transport situation so we may come up with good laws that will help our motorcycle riders get the livelihood they deserve and provide the kind of transport services that Filipinos need," he declared.
Last June 6, the House of Representatives, through the Committee on Metro Manila Development, agreed on the benefits of motorcycle-taxis and that not regulating them poses a greater danger. The committee directed the DOTr to give motorcycle taxis the same regulations given to TNVS within 30 days.
More than a month has passed, and the directive has yet to be enacted.
Led by Transport Watch, the groups behind the Unity Ride launched an online petition to urge the DOTr to follow through on this Congressional direction. As of August 7, the petition has gathered close to 18,000 signatures in support. The groups presented this petition to Rep. Winston Castelo, chair of the House Committee on Metro Manila Development during the program.
“Next week, I will lead a congressional investigation and hearing again para i-update ako ng LTFRB (DOTr’s Land Transport Franchising and Regulatory Board) dun sa kanilang pangako na dedesisyunan nila ang pagpapayag ng motorcycle taxis. We cannot afford any further delays.” (Next week, I will lead a congressional investigation and hearing again to ask for an update from the LTFRB on their promise to decide on allowing motorcycle taxis to operate. We cannot afford any further delays) said Rep. Castelo. — Rappler.com