Groups urge Congress to pass motorcycle taxi bill into law

IT is high time that government prioritize the passing of a law that will finally legalize motorcycle taxi services in the Philippines, representatives of civil society, the government, and an industry player said on Wednesday.

During the Kapihan sa Manila Bay, The Passenger Forum Convener Primo Morillo and Infrawatch Convener Terry Ridon, Land Transportation Office Director Alex Abaton, and Move It General Manager Wayne Jacinto agreed Congress should pass the Motorcycle Taxi Bill into law to properly regulate the operations of motorcycle taxis in the Philippines.

“While motorcycle taxi companies are making a mess by arguing among themselves, we should remain focused on the real issue on the table—that we need an actual law for the motorcycle taxi sector. That is the first order of the day,” Ridon said.

Motorcycle taxis are currently operating under a pilot study, as they have yet to be legally recognized as a form of public transportation. Lawmakers from the previous Congress have started the ball rolling to legalize them, but that was halted due to the pandemic.

For now, the government has limited the operation of motorcycle taxis to three companies, which are required to provide the government necessary data to prove that they are a safe mode of transportation to the public.

One of them was Move It, which was recently acquired by Grab. The acquisition earned the ire of some groups in the civil society, deeming it to have been illegal under the pilot program.

“The law will ensure the safety of their operations. We first need to create the law instead of arguing about the pilot program. We should support one another in pushing for the law. For as long as a law is not passed, the sector will look like the wild, wild, west,” Ridon said.

Morillo agreed, saying motorcycle taxis could help address the transport crisis in some parts of the Philippines.

“We are still at the mercy of the discretion of the government and we believe that it is high time that we pass the motorcycle taxi law. We think this should be a priority of the new Congress to provide commuters with more options,” he said.

In February, months before the change in the members of the Congress, the House of Representatives unanimously approved on third and final reading House Bill 10571, which consolidated 18 bills that aim to legalize motorcycle services as a form of public transportation.

Under Republic Act 4136, or the Land Transportation and Traffic Code, motorcycles are prohibited to be used as public transport.

“At the end of the day, we need a law. Congress can be the one to provide the guidelines,” Abaton said. “It’s about time that we recognize this mode of transportation because there is a need for it.”

Morillo noted that the pilot study should have formed meaningful results by now. He believes motorcycle taxis can be a viable and safe mode of transportation with proper training of riders and the implementation of safety protocols.

Jacinto noted that for Move It, drivers undergo “rigorous training and skills assessment.” Insurance is also provided for both riders and passengers.

“Move It is the smallest player and we aim to provide our riders with a means to earn, while offering passengers a safe mode of transportation,” he said.