Transpo advocates question legality, lack of consultation in e-vehicle ban policy

James Relativo - Philstar.com
Transpo advocates question legality, lack of consultation in e-vehicle ban policy
E-trikes and tricycles are seen plying along Taft Avenue in Manila on February 3, 2024 despite reminders from the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) to the local governments to enforce the DILG Memorandum Circular No. 2023-195, which bans e-bikes, pedicabs, and tricycles on national roads and major thoroughfares.
The STAR / Ernie Penaredondo

MANILA, Philippines — Transportation advocates criticized the Metro Manila Council's (MMC) latest resolution penalizing the use of electronic bikes and trikes along major roads in Metro Manila, citing possible legal and mobility issues alongside "lack of consultation."

This comes after the MMC and Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA)'s press conference this Wednesday, saying that their unregulated operation pose safety risks to the public since many of its drivers don't bear licenses.

"[L]ight electric vehicles that are exclusively for private use are exempt from registration, according to RA 11697," said the Move as One Coalition in a statement released this Wednesday.

Section 9b of Republic Act 11697 states:

Section 9. Role of the Department of Transportation. - The DOTr shall be the primary agency tasked with the development of EV demand generation, and the regulation and registration of EVs, as well as franchising of EVs used for public transportation. Towards this end, the DOTr shall:

(b) Promulgate uniform and streamlined policies, rules and requirements through its attached agencies on the use, operations, inspection, and registration of EVs, as well as franchising of EVs used for public transportation: Provided, That light electric vehicles which shall be for exclusive private use shall not be required to register with the DOTr and its attached agencies (emphasis supplied);

Move as One also questioned why e-vehicle users were "excluded" from meetings on e-bike and e-trike regulation, a move which they see as pivotal when it comes to discussing said measures.

"But why were there no e-vehicle users present at the meeting? They are taxpayers, too, and deserve to have a say in measures that would affect their fundamental right to mobility and safety. They should be consulted," said the coalition.

'Cars kill more, why single out e-trikes?'

MMDA acting chairperson earlier criticized e-vehicle units, e-tricycles, e-bikes, e-pedicables, and e-scooters as a  "danger to the lives of concerned drivers, passengers, and pedestrians" in a statement last February 15, this while saying that they "slow down the flow of traffic."

This statement came after The Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) bared that 556 road crash incidents in Metro Manila lasy 2023 involved e-bikes. This resulted in two fatalities and 273 non-fatal injuries. 

"These deaths and injuries are indeed lamentable. However, MMDA’s sweeping statement lacks context," continued Move as One Coalition.

"The data from MMDA’s 2022 Metro Manila Accident Reporting and Analysis System (MMARAS) shows that 'bike/ebike/pedicab' accounted for 4.84% of the total number of fatalities; 5.88% of the total number of non fatal injuries; and 2.05% the total number of vehicles involved in a crash."

They also challenged the MMDA to release the 2023 data on road crashes involving cars that resulted in fatalities and non-fatal injuries.

According to the group, cars have consistently accounted for the highest percentage of vehicles involved in a road crash since the MMARS began in 2005.

"The Move As One Coalition calls on MMDA and all concerned government agencies to craft clear, legal, and carefully considered policies on e-vehicles with the participation of e-vehicle users," said the group while highlighting the potential of e-vehicles as a viable eco-friendly alternative.

"These policies should promote road safety, ensure the equitable distribution of road space, and be in line with environmental objectives."

Against the concept of 'mobility for all'?

On the part of Ira Cruz, director for AltMobility PH, the roads identified by MMDA currently offer direct access to destinations, saying that the policy could result in problems when it comes to public mobility.

"Back to basics: In order to improve mobility for all, we must open additional modes outside of private vehicles; Forcing people to take circuitous routes is the exact opposite," he said in a tweet.

"We need better decision-makers that can go beyond piece-meal policies. What the country needs is a sound plan that covers mobility at all stages and for the most vulnerable, above all else; Only then can we improve mobility for all."

The MMDA earlier estimated that the new policy could possibly take effect by April, with violators facing fines of up to P2,500.

Erring motorists who have no driver's license will have their vehicles impounded. Local government units within Metro Manila were also tasked of crafting ordinances identifying which roads could and couldn't be accessed by e-trikes and e-bikes.

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