Bikes for hire part of Cebu’s mass transit
SHOOTING STRAIGHT - Bobit S. Avila (The Philippine Star) - November 19, 2019 - 12:00am

There was a newspaper headline that said that “Traffic Mess Breeds Illegal Bikes for Hire” which is supposedly a three-part report. But if this is not happening in Metro Manila, let me tell you that this has been happening in Metro Cebu for a couple of years already. To be totally honest about it, this started in the Mountain Barangays of Cebu City not served by jeepney operators. So when the Transcentral Highway was cemented from Cebu City to the town of Balamban and there were no jeepney routes in that place, what do you think would happen? People used motorcycles to bring their kids to their respective schools and history was being made.

Two years ago in an obvious political move, then Cebu City Mayor Tomas Osmeña embarked on a plan to legitimize these motorcycles-for-hire even with the knowledge that this is a very dangerous means of public transportation. During that meeting of motorcycle riders, some 7,000 of them showed up at the Abellana Sports Complex. However, Cebu City needed less than the 7,000 people who showed up. That means that most of these motorcycles-for-hire came from Metro Cebu also.

Today if and when you come to Cebu City… you will see these motorcycles grouped together on a stoplight waiting for the green light to turn on. They have literally unseated the jeepney as the king of the road. These motorcycles swoop from left to right on paths that they believe bring them faster to their destinations. Mind you, I have been bumped in the last three years three times by these habal-habal motorcycles who admit their mistake, but cannot pay you because they don’t have the money.

So when the Philippine STAR came up with an article last October about the number of motorcycle deaths and that motorcycle accidents are now the ninth leading cause of death among Filipinos, according to the Land Transportation Office (LTO) I wasn’t surprised to learn about this. Today we have seven million registered motorcycles, three million more than cars and all other vehicles combined. At this point, I would like to propose a special lane for motorcycles to prevent what is happening in Metro Cebu where swarm of motorcycles engulf motor vehicles that often bump into them, yet they cannot afford to pay. But without them our jeepneys are not enough!

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This statement coming from Dr. Henry Lim Bon Liong of the Federation of Filipino Chinese Chambers of Commerce and Industry Inc. FFCCCII was sent to me by Philippine STAR fellow columnist Wilson Lee Flores to request me to disseminate this statement.

“The Federation of Filipino Chinese Chambers of Commerce and Industry Inc. wishes to reaffirm its full and unwavering support to the government’s intensified campaign against illegal drugs. We join the government and our law enforcement agencies in condemning and working towards eradicating the menace of illegal drugs as a moral scourge, a threat to public health and the socio-economic stability of the Philippines.

 Since 2016, the FFCCCII has supported the government’s efforts to rehabilitate drug users through the donations of rehabilitation centers in Candelaria, Lucban and Mulanay, Quezon Province; Tagbilaran, Bohol province; Island Garden City of Samal, Davao del Norte province; Mati, Davao Oriental province; and Surallah, South Cotabato province. We believe that a wholistic anti-illegal drug campaign should include rehabilitation of drug users.

 We wish to clarify certain media reports, which link Filipino Chinese to illegal drugs. We appeal to media and other sectors to refrain from generalizing that members of the Filipino Chinese community as peddlers of illegal drugs and inadvertently besmirching our community’s reputation. As with any community, there may be a handful of wrongdoers or bad apples but the same should not affect the rest of the community.

 We want to reiterate that most, if not all of the ethnic Chinese community members in the country, are law-abiding Filipino citizens, legitimate business people and conscientious in upholding rule of law.  Let us be more careful in making public statements that may unnecessarily create rancor, conflicts, misunderstanding and promote unfair stereotypes.

 In this light, the FFCCCII would like to revisit discussions on proposals by many citizens on the re-imposition of the death penalty for heinous crimes, particularly for drug traffickers and pushers. We may look at our Asian neighbors like Singapore, China and Taiwan on how capital punishment has deterred the commission of heinous crimes. We reaffirm FFCCCII’s commitment to be the government’s partner in economic and social progress.”

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