The operation of the habal-habal or motorcycle taxi, an indigenous means of transportation widely used in farflung areas in the Visayas and Mindanao, should be controlled and regulated by the local government units (LGUs), Misamis Oriental Representative Juliette Uy said.
Uy has filed House Bill 4794 specifically for the purpose of granting LGUs the authority to regulate the use of the habal-habal, a motorcycle-for-hire with seat extensions consisting of wood planks on the sides. The vehicle is used in remote areas in Mindanao and the Visayas where trucks, jeepneys or tricycles cannot pass.
The bill also aims to legalize this form of transportation so that its operators would be covered by the law on common carriers, said Uy, an active member of the National Unity Party (NUP).
"It is hoped that this measure shall disaggregate data on registered motorcycles and tricycles at the Land Transportation Office (LTO). As of 2013, LTO data state there are 4,250,667 registered motorcycles and tricycles in the country. There is no separate category for habal-habal at this point," Uy said.
“Since habal-habal cannot be registered as vehicles for hire, the proliferation of the same is a clear and present danger for the riding public. This is because passengers who get injured or hurt in accidents involving this mode of transportation cannot claim medical benefits or reimbursements since motorcycles-for-hire are not covered by any form of insurance," Uy stressed.
The NUP lawmaker said her measure “will, in effect, bring these motorcycles for hire into the sphere of policy regulation and the benefits that the general riding public will have once this is passed into law," Uy said.
Under existing laws, such as Republic Act 4136 or the Land Transportation and Traffic Code, motorcycles are classified for private use only. Thus, the use of the habal-habal as vehicles-for-hire is considered illegal.
Uy said that under her bill, habal-habal operators will be allowed to register their vehicles as public transport, which are covered by the law on common carriers.
Her measure seeks to amend certain provisions of the Local Government Code and penalize habal-habal operators with fines and impoundment of their motorcycles for failing to register their units.