Transpo execs should address 'overcharging' by motorcycle taxis during Christmas rush--solon

The chairman of the House Committee on Transportation is prodding transportation authorities to answer the complaints of motorcycle taxi users who fell victims to "overcharging" and even resorted to illegal “habal-habal” for their commute.

Antipolo 2nd district Rep. Romeo Acop (Facebook)

This, after transportation network company (TNC) riders had turned off their apps at the height of the Christmas holiday rush, forcing commuters to do fare "contracting" with them.

Antipolo 2nd district Rep. Romeo Acop, House panel chairman said the Land Transportation Office should immediately address complaints of overcharging by TNCs like Angkas and Joyride and check if they are "complying with their obligations under the memorandum circular".

The memorandum covers the pilot-testing program for the operation of motorcycle taxis. The LTO is an attached agency of the Department of Transportation (DOTr).

A law regulating motorcycle taxis is currently being deliberated on by the House of Representatives. In the interim, TNCs have been allowed to operate under this pilot-testing program governed by a provisional authority issued by a DOTr Technical Working Group (TWG).

The legislator pointed out that the DOTr should also evaluate the fares charged by TNCs to determine if these are compliant with memo regulations that allow them to charge up to twice the normal rates.

"Mayroon naman doon sa pilot study na authorized naman sila mag incease ng charges (There's a provision in the pilot study that says they're authorized to increase charges) but not more than two times yung ordinary na fare," Acop said.

"Since the head of the pilot study is Asec Tugade of LTO, dapat siya ang sumagot niyan kung talagang yung kanyang mga grupo (motorcycle taxi) na under the pilot study eh nag-oovercharge (he should be the one to answer whether or not the motorcycle taxi groups under the pilot study are indeed overcharging)," he noted.

"Chairman should answer the complaints and find out whether it is the motorcycle groups under the pilot study program are complying with their obligations under the memorandum circular. Kasi ano ang magagawa ko kung di niyo naman binigay yung numero (What can I do if you can't give me the numbers)," the solon pointed out.

Various groups have condemned what they called “pambubudol” of popular motorcycle taxi companies, which further exacerbates the plight of commuters reeling from the shortage of public transportation with the resumption of economic activities to pre-pandemic levels.

CitizenWatch Philippines said: “We understand that times are difficult, and that great need may be prompting these drivers to act against the interests of the people they intended to serve. Certainly, however, this does not justify taking advantage of the hapless Filipino commuter who is already so burdened by day-to-day survival challenges.”

“We also reiterate our call for the swift passage of the Motorcycle Taxi bill into law so that all players in this sector will be regulated and bound to a commitment to public service,” it added.

Louie Montemar, convenor of Bantay Konsyumer, Kalsada, Kuryente (BK3) said the situation calls for the passage of the motorcycle taxi law to ensure the safety and accessibility of this mode of transportation.

“Hindi dahilan ang hirap ng buhay para gumawa ng mga mapagsamantalang bagay sa ating kapwa, lalo na sa ating mga kababayang nagsisikap sa araw-araw para magkaroon ng kaunting ginhawa, at para maramdaman man lang ang saya na dulot ng Pasko (Poverty is no reason to take advantage of your countrymen, especially to those who toil everyday to gain a bit of relief and somehow feel the spirit of Christmas)," Montemar said.

Acop said that in a previous hearing tackling the pilot-testing program he had already raised his concerns over the program, and that despite this, the now three-year pilot-testing program was indefinitely extended.

He said this was tantamount to giving TNCs licenses to operate even if they were only being allowed to do so under a pilot-testing program.

"Kasi inextend uli nila eh. Yun ang mali. At tsaka walang date of termination yung extension. Yun yung kinwestiyon ko sa hearing (Because they extended it again. That's wrong. And the extension has no date of termination. That's what I questioned during the hearing).

"You're already usurping the power of Congress na magbigay ng franchise or license (to grant a franchise or license)."