VERA FILES FACT SHEET: The legality of motorcycle taxis

Read this fact check in Filipino

The Department of Transportation (DOTr) has announced that it will proceed with the pilot study temporarily allowing select for-hire motorcycles to operate in some areas of the country.

This, after terminating the program yesterday, prior to a Senate hearing on the matter, due to "legal impediments.”

Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) member Antonio Gardiola Jr., head of the technical working group (TWG) overseeing the program, said the group considered the sentiments of senators pushing for the use of motorcycles as public utility vehicles (PUV).

Motorcycles are prohibited by law to be used as PUVs. But the recent increase in public demand for commuting alternatives due to worsening traffic conditions has pushed executive and legislative officials to reconsider.

Here are three things you need to know about motorcycle taxis.

1. For-hire motorcycles are specifically prohibited under the Land Transportation and Traffic Code.

Section 7 of the Land Transportation and Traffic Code, or Republic Act 4136, states that:

“Private motorcycles, scooters or motor wheel attachments...shall not be used to solicit, accept, or be used to transport passengers or freight for pay.”

Source: Land Transportation Office, Republic Act No. 4136

The law, which was enacted in 1964, also explicitly exempts motorcycles from its definition of “passenger automobiles.”

The reason for this, said DOTr Undersecretary Mark de Leon in a Jan. 18 phone interview with VERA Files, is three-fold: the roads then were still not as congested; four-wheeled vehicles were the main mode of transportation since traffic was relatively light; and road safety.

De Leon said riders of motorcycles, unlike those in four-wheeled vehicles, are “very exposed” since the “only protection” a rider has is one’s helmet. Moreover, he said backriders must have the appropriate training:

“They need to keep their balance. They need to [be] aware of all the situation in front of the driver. Eh (but) most of the time, iyong (the) backrider doesn’t have the appropriate training.”

Thus, motorcycles operating as PUVs are deemed by the DOTr as “colorum,” or operating without proper authorization from the LTFRB. These vehicles may then face fines and impound penalties if apprehended, as stated in Joint Administrative Order 1 issued in 2014.

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Under the DOTr’s pilot program, initially for six months starting May 23, 2019 but later extended to March 23, 2020, select motorcycle taxi operators were temporarily allowed in Metro Manila and Metro Cebu, to determine the viability of the vehicle as a mode of public transport.

The program covers only application-based hailing platforms such as Angkas, MoveIt, and JoyRide. It excludes informal motorcycle transport services in the country such as “habal-habal” and “skylab” that are commonly found in the countryside.

The TWG, which oversees the program, is composed of multi-government offices, including the LTFRB.

2. Several lawmakers seek the legalization of motorcycle taxis.

In monitoring the program, the TWG used three key performance indicators:

  • accident threshold;
  • traffic rules violations; and
  • feedback from frequent customers.

The group is then expected to submit its findings to Congress, supposedly by the end of the program, to serve as “valuable inputs for legislative actions.”

There are currently 18 pending bills seeking to amend RA 4136 in both houses of Congress combined; 4 in the Senate and 14 in the House of Representatives. All aim to legalize motorcycles for-hire and address issues on the safety and regulation of their operation.

Read more about the proposals here.

3. Safety is being used as an argument for and against legalizing motorcycle taxis.

For road safety group Bloomberg Initiative for Global Road Safety-Legal Development Programme (BIGRS-LDP), a non-profit group advocating for evidence-informed road safety policies, motorcycle taxis should not be allowed at the expense of public health and safety.

The group said other countries with legally allowed motorcycles for-hire “hardly” show any evidence proving their safety. It cited Vietnam, where, it claimed, 75 percent of more than 8,000 road crash deaths in 2015 were caused by motorcycle riders or passengers.

A 2018 World Health Organization (WHO) study found that riders of two- and three-wheeler vehicles, including motorcycles, caused five percent of all 10,012 reported road crash fatalities in the Philippines in 2015.

In Metro Manila, motorcycle crashes resulted in the most number of deaths -- 224 or 37.97 percent of the total 590 -- compared to other vehicles in 2018, according to data from the Metro Manila Development Authority.

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Pro-commuter group Alt Mobility PH, on the other hand, sees the legalization of motorcycle taxis as a way to address safety concerns, as well as lack of transport options.

Alt Mobility PH Chief Mobility Officer Jedd Ugay, in an interview with VERA Files, said legalizing motorcycle taxis, such as habal-habals, would mean imposing improved safety requirements. He said the legalization would help introduce safety provisions and requirements in their supposed “unsafe” operation.


Sources

CNN Philippines, Motorcycle taxis not yet banned as pilot run continues -- DOTr, Jan. 21, 2020

Department of Transportation official Facebook page, ATM: The Senate Committee on Public Services conducts a hearing on the legalization of Motorcycle Taxi Services, Jan. 20, 2020

Senator Grace Poe official Facebook page, Iisa ang ating mithiin…, Jan. 20, 2020

Department of Transportation official Facebook page, IN PHOTOS: The Technical Working Group, Jan. 20. 2020

Land Transportation Office, Republic Act No. 4136

House of Representatives, House Resolution No. 2449, Jan. 29, 2019

Department of Transportation, GENERAL GUIDELINES FOR THE PILOT IMPLEMENTATION OF MOTORCYCLE TAXIS, n.d.

Department of Transportation, DOTr, INAPRUBAHAN ANG PILOT IMPLEMENTATION NG OPERASYON NG MOTORCYCLE TAXI, May 10, 2019

Department of Transportation, Joint Administrative Order No. 2014-01, June 2, 2014

Interview with Department of Transportation Undersecretary Mark De Leon, Jan. 17, 2019

Department of Transportation, REVISED GENERAL GUIDELINES FOR THE PILOT IMPLEMENTATION OF MOTORCYCLE TAXIS, n.d.

New players join in the motorcycle taxi pilot study

Senate of the Philippines official website

House of Representatives official website

Bloomberg Initiative for Global Road Safety-Legal Development Programme, THE OFFICIAL POSITION OF THE BIGRS-LDP FELLOWS ON THE LEGALIZATION OF MOTORCYCLES-FOR-HIRE/MOTORCYCLE TAXIS, n.d.

World Health Organization, Global Status Report on Road Safety in 2018 p. 213, 2018

Metropolitan Manila Development Authority, Metropolitan Manila Accident Report and Analysis System (MMARAS) 2018 p. 9, 2018



(Guided by the code of principles of the International Fact-Checking Network at Poynter, VERA Files tracks the false claims, flip-flops, misleading statements of public officials and figures, and debunks them with factual evidence. Find out more about this initiative and our methodology.)

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