The House of Representatives approves a bill legalizing motorcycles for hire on third and final reading.
Michael Varcas/The STAR
House approves motorcycle-for-hire bill on final reading
( - February 4, 2019 - 7:27pm

MANILA, Philippines — The House of Representatives approved House Bill 8959 on third and final reading on Monday which would allow motorcycle taxis to operate as alternative commuter vehicles.

The bill, authored by Rep. Winston Castelo (Quezon City), aims to amend the Land Transportation and Traffic Code (Republic Act 4136) that limits PUVs only to four-wheeled vehicles. 

It was passed unanimously (181-0-0).

If signed into law, the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board would be tasked to set "reasonable" fares and other charges for these motorcycle taxis.

READ: Motorcycle taxi measure OK'd on second reading

The approval comes only less than two months after the Supreme Court issued an injunction in December on a Mandaluyong court’s Temporary Restraining Order stopping the LTFRB from regulating motorcycles for hire. 

Although Angkas was ordered to stop, they maintained that they would operate until the SC decides with finality on the legality of using motorcycles as a form of public transportation.

They also provided financial support to drivers who are caught by LTFRB and other authorities.

George Royeca, public affairs head for Angkas, said in a statement in December that 25,000 riders would lose their livelihoods in addition to the riding public losing a more affordable transportation option if Angkas would not be allowed to operate again.

Cebu City Mayor Tommy Osmeña, a vocal advocate of motorcycle’s as a taxi service said in a Facebook post that he was grateful that lawmakers rushed the bill's approval before the House of Representatives goes on recess. 

He previously said that motorcycles-for-hire, also known as "habal habal," were crucial in upland barangays where roads are not built for jeeps or other types of four-wheel vehicles. 

READ: Osmeña to ask SC to let Cebu City regulate motorcycles-for-hire

Reps. Raul Del Mar (Cebu City), an ally of Osmeña in Congress, and Ruffy Biazon (Muntinlupa) also introduced similar legislation to legalize the service. 

A similar measure is also being taken up in the upper chamber. Senate President Pro Tempore Ralph Recto filed Senate Bill 2173 that aims to classify public utility motorcycles as those with engines of at least 125 cc and can travel faster than 50 kilometers per hour.

READ: No intention to 'antagonize' Angkas, DOTr says

Recto said he filed the bill as a response to the call of the SC and the DOTr that the Land Transportation and Traffic Code must be amended first before motorcycle ride-sharing services could be legally accredited. — Ryan Macasero

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