By Chito Chavez
Officials of the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) vowed to continue the apprehension of tricycle drivers using national roads until the Quezon City government formally requests them to defer such move.
In a late afternoon meeting in Quezon City, Bong Nebrija Commander of the MMDA Task Force Operation said they are expecting to receive the letter on Tuesday specifying the moratorium in the apprehension of tricycle drivers traversing the city’s main roads.
A butt of contention arose during the meeting where the MMDA insisted that they are mandated to implement national laws which include the banning of tricycles on major roads.
However, Vice-Mayor Joy Belmonte noted that there is an existing city ordinance that bans tricycles along national roads provided there are no inner roads to traverse to ferry their passengers on their lawful routes.
Both parties will schedule another meeting to discuss what path to take in resolving the controversial banning of tricycles on national roads.
However, Nebrija pointed out that they will still arrest tricycle drivers violating other national laws like overloading, driving without licenses and other similar offenses.
Elmo San Diego chief of the city’s Department of Public Order and Safety (DPOS) noted that both agencies should also consider the livelihood aspect of the lowly tricycle drivers in imposing the total ban of the three-wheeled vehicle on national roads.
He echoed Nebrija’s conviction in enforcing the full force of the law against the other violations concerning the tricycles.
“I can easily write a letter to the MMDA today requesting that the ban of tricycle units along the city’s national roads be temporarily lifted,’’ San Diego said.
In the same meeting, Councilor Olivierre Belmonte said that the city council plans to distribute the city’s estimated 24,000 tricycle franchises to minimize the public’s riding woes.
He clarified that tricycles in over-served areas will be transferred to the underserved locations and areas where there are no tricycle franchises.
Also, the Lawyers for Commuters Safety and Protection (LCSP) pointed out that there is no law prohibiting students from using tricycles as school service.
“Let’s not make a simple issue complicated. Hindi bawal sumakay ng tricycle ang estudyante papunta sa paaralan o pauwi. Walang batas na ganyan (It is not unlawful for students to use tricycle units as their service vehicles. There is no such law),’’ LCSP founder, lawyer Ariel Inton said.
Inton said authorities should run after overloading, colorum, and out-of-line tricycles and other public utility vehicles (PUV) instead of barring “trikes from being used as school shuttle services’’..
Earlier, Belmonte rejected the stand of the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) to ban the use of the three-wheeled vehicles as school vehicle services.
“As long as the for-hire tricycle is not colorum, overloading, or out-of-line,’’ Belmonte said.
Belmonte insisted tricycle units should still be allowed to serve as school shuttle service as long as they have legal franchises.
Echoing Belmonte’s stand, Inton pointed out that tricycles are still safe to use and are more practical.
Inton maintained that law enforcers should run after overloaded tricycle units and reckless drivers describing LTFRB’s proposal as “misplaced.”
He explained tricycles are patronized mostly by public school students from poor families who neither have private cars nor the financial capability to pay for more expensive school bus fees.
“When a public motorized tricycle is carrying students, does it mean it is already a school service? Ibig sabihin ba na ‘pag jeep at puro students ang nagkataong nakasakay ay school service na (Does it mean that jeeps are considered as school service if they are filled with students?)” Inton asked.
Belmonte insisted the LFTRB should have first coordinated to the local government units its operations against tricycles ferrying students to and from the schools.
“LTFRB should have consulted the LGUs first before implementing the ban since, in Quezon City, for example, this is already covered by a local ordinance designed to address a localized issue,” she stressed.
Ordinance No. SP-2337-2014 or “The Quezon City Tricycle Management Code of 2014” strictly prohibits overloading of passengers in tricycles as well as colorum and out-of-line operations.
Belmonte pointed out that under the ordinance, public motorized tricycles are allowed to carry up to four passengers only, including the driver.