Press Release
May 23, 2023

TRANSCRIPT OF SEN. GRACE POE'S OPENING STATEMENT
COMMITTEE ON PUBLIC SERVICES HEARING

Good morning. This public hearing is now called to order.

Trapik pero walang masakyan. May masasakyan man, minsan colorum naman. Ito na ata ang kinatandaan na sistema ng mga commuter sa Pilipinas.

Ayon sa datos ng Land Transportation Office, mayroong humigit kumulang 19.2 milyong motorsiklo sa bansa. This is roughly 87 percent of all registered motor vehicles as of 2022. Imagine, 87 percent ito. One out of three Filipino households own a motorcycle and 51 percent of them use it for livelihood.

As early as 2018, the senators have already called the Department of Transportation to consider the legalization of motorcycles-for-hire in the same way it recognized new forms of transport services under Department Order No. 2015-11. This is to promote mobility. While they did not take this track, we appreciate that our transport agencies kept an open mind on the possibility of motorcycle-for-hire in the country and for spearheading a pilot testing.

A Technical Working Group which conducted the pilot implementation on motorcycles-for-hire, more commonly known as motorcycle or MC taxis, was deemed as the best option for the government to determine, if indeed, the Philippines is ready for a motorcycle taxi regime. Kumbaga, "trial period" para malaman kung swak nga sa pangangailangan natin before we fully commit to it.

After more than four years of continuous studies by the TWG, it now appears, without a doubt, that commuters are overwhelmingly in favor of legalizing motorcycles taxis. The latest TWG survey reports a whopping 96 percent of the motorcycle taxi passengers surveyed believed that the government should allow motorcycles as a mode of public transportation.

Commuters favor MC taxis' affordability and quicker conveyance time in our clogged streets of urban centers where MC taxis were allowed to operate. Riders, even habals, lobby for a legal regime as it stands to give them a viable source of income and livelihood.

Interestingly enough, as regards the question of who should regulate this new specie, the TWG study proposes to give the jurisdiction over MC taxis to LTFRB for operations within Metropolitan areas, and to the LGUs for all other areas, not much different to the current regulation of tricycles. This is something that we can discuss as policymakers.

To me, this pilot study is the strength of this policy. Maaga pa lamang ay nakita na natin ang mga gap sa implementation so the regulators have enough time to come up with solutions or interventions to improve its regulation once legalized.

Now that we are convinced of the need for MC taxis, new questions crop up: Are we now ready to welcome more players? Is it time for the TWG to conclude its pilot study and submit its final recommendations to Congress?

The biggest issue from then until now is the safety aspect. The most recent Global Status Report for Road Safety of the World Health Organization (WHO), nearly 30 percent of all road crash deaths involve powered two- and three-wheeled vehicles, such as motorcycles, mopeds, scooters and electrical bikes (e-bikes), and the numbers are rising. This is even higher in Southeast Asia where 43 percent of all road traffic deaths involve two and three wheelers. The established vulnerability of motorcycle as a mode of transportation calls for the government to step in.

We need to legalize to reflect the reality on the ground but we also need the highest safety standards to make this a true mobility alternative. Today's hearing is the first part of the two-pronged vision to not only legalize but also create a regulatory and safety framework on the Transport Network Vehicle System.

Four years and a global pandemic later, we believe it is now time for Congress to use the data points from the ground to craft a policy that is responsive to the needs of the commuting public and all the stakeholders of the ever growing MC Taxi industry.

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