Commuter group seeks TRO vs. fly-by-night motor taxis

A commuter group is seeking an injunction against fly-by-night motorcycle taxi operators to protect riding public from grave danger on road.

Lawyer Ariel Inton of the Lawyers for Commuter Safety and Protection said his group filed a temporary restraining order and/or writ of preliminary injunction before the Regional Trial Court of Quezon City against We Move Things Philippines Inc., Habal Rides Corp., I-Sabay, Sampa-Dala Corp., and Trans-Serve Corp.

The petition stated that their operations are unauthorized and may cause grave and substantial damage to the public.

Inton, a former Land Transportation Franchise and Regulatory Board member, said that the LCSP’s main thrust is to promote commuter safety and uphold the rights of commuters, road users and pedestrians to a safe mode of transportation.

As such, Inton said,  it has an absolute right to prevent respondents from organizing its fleet of motorcycles for hire and avert its operations which prejudice the riding public.

“The respondents are currently sabotaging the government’s pilot program for motorcycle taxis by unilaterally according to themselves the privilege to operate motorcycles for hire in the guise of addressing the traffic situation in Metro Manila, Metro Cebu and other urban cities,” Inton said.

According to the petition letter that the LCSP submitted to the Regional Trial Court of Quezon City Tuesday, Dec. 3, “Combined, thousands of motorcycles illegally booking and transporting passengers ply the roads, unduly exposing petitioners’ members to road hazards and increased risk of accidents.”

Inton staid that motorcycle taxi operations are being conducted outside of the pilot program of the DoTr, defeating entirely the essence of the ongoing pilot testing and exposing the riding public to grave risks.  

“We have requested an immediate restraining order to prevent grave and irreparable damage to the riding public in general, and to the pilot program in particular,” Atty. Raymond Fortun of LCSP said.

“Moreover, any accident during this critical period will also sabotage the pilot program,” he added.

Early this year, the House of Representatives passed Resolution No. 2449 urging the DoTr to implement a pilot program allowing, monitoring, and regulating the operation of duly registered and organized motorcycles-for-hire as an alternative public transport utility.

The DoTr then instructed various agencies to form a Technical Working Group (TWG) composed of stakeholders and experts from the government and the private sector to discuss issues attendant to the prospect of two-wheel vehicles operating as public transport.

The TWG was tasked to identify motorcycle types eligible to be licensed, taking into consideration factors like engine displacement, carrying capacity, operating speeds, routes, seat and helmet requirements, and training requirements for drivers, who will eventually need to obtain a public utility vehicle (PUV) registration.

Upon the recommendation of the TWG, the DoTr allowed the six-month pilot test for motorcycle taxi operations in the Philippines starting in July of this year. Since only the motorcycle ride-hailing app Angkas had been established and operating with an eight-month track record at the time, Angkas became the sole subject of the pilot program which will end in December.

The five motorcycle taxi companies identified as respondents in the petition were reported to have surfaced and have begun the onboarding of motorcycle bikers and started accepting bookings for the transport of passengers.

To date, Joyride has already onboarded 3,000 bikers and have constructed their own office where recruitment is currently done.

“These bikers are also at risk of performing an illegal activity considering that Joyride, currently does not possess the necessary permit or authority from the DoTr,” the petition said.

Over at the Senate, Senator Grace Poe said on Monday that creating the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB), approved on third and final reading at the Senate, is long overdue.

Poe noted that many transportation accidents that have happened in the past had claimed innocent lives.

“With thorough, timely and substantial investigation, we will be able to prevent those accidents from happening again and give justice to the victims and their families,” Poe said.

Poe, chairperson of the public services committee, said Senate Bill No. 1077 or the proposed National Transportation Safety Board Act will create a board that will focus on investigating air, highway, railroad, pipeline and maritime accidents.

The report of the body’s investigation will be submitted to Congress within 60 days from completion and will be used to appraise and assess existing practices and regulations related to safety measures.

She said the NTSB has visitorial power to enter places of accidents and thoroughly determine the parts motor vehicle, vessel, aircraft, o pipeline na naging sanhi ng accident. 

“Kapag maayos ang imbestigasyon, palagay ko wala ng kaso ng nahulog na bus o lumubog na barko ang itatambak na lang sa filing cabinet na wala man lang resulta o solusyon,” she said.

Poe said that records from the Metro Manila Accident and Recording Analysis System of the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority which showed 116,906 road accidents in 2018, or an equivalent to 320 accidents every day or 13 accidents every hour.

All transportation accidents, she said, carry hefty price tags, citing a 2005 study by the University of the Philippines that a road accident could cost up to P3.47 million in terms of damage to property and lost productivity.

She said the 2018 World Health Organization Global Status Report on Road Safety revealed that road traffic injuries cost the Philippines about 2.6 percent of the entire gross domestic product.

“Hindi puwedeng tapatan ng presyo ang mga buhay na nawala,” Poe said.

The NTSB will also proactively conduct studies on making the transport sector as safe as possible by looking into the causes and determinants of accidents, among others, to guide the government in crafting policies and regulations which will prevent them from recurring.

“The NTSB can save lives that should not be lost in the first place. It can avoid preventable accidents. It can avert injuries. It can keep properties intact. The NTSB is our road to safety,” she added.

Poe thanked her fellow senators for giving their nod to the bill.

Topics: Grace Poe , public utility vehicle , World Health Organization Global Status Report , Metro Manila Accident and Recording Analysis System , Metropolitan Manila Development Authority
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