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The Department of Transportation (DOTr) has rejected the Puerto Princesa City Government’s plea for at least few months or years of exemption from the directive of the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) on the strict implementation of tricycle ban on national highways.
Councilor Elgin Damasco, the City Council’s committee on transportation chair confirmed this to Palawan Daily News (PDN) Friday, January 24, while he was still in Manila for this official travel.
“Ako po ay humihingi ng paumanhin sa ating mga tricycle operators, drivers, maging sa mga commuters natin. Ginawa ko na po ang lahat ng aking makakaya. Kulang na lang po mag-makipluhod ako sa mga opisyal ng DOTr para bigyan tayo ng pagkakataon o ekstensiyon dito po sa lungsod ng Puerto Princesa, kaya lamang national law po ito, maging sila ay wala din silang magagawa dahil batas iyan. Gusto ko lang po ulit klaruhin na hindi po ito batas ng local government, kundi batas ng national,” said Damasco.
“Wala tayong magagawa talaga kundi sundin ‘yong batas. Lahat ng paraan ginawa natin para ma-protektahan ‘yong interest ng mga commuters and ng mga tricycle operators and drivers kaya lamang talagang ito po ay batas na kailangan nang ipatupad ayon sa DOTr,” said Damasco.
Damasco said he went to Manila and stayed there for around four consecutive days to personally meet with DOTr officials.
He said their meeting revolved around City Council’s two main intentions: first is whether or not the national roads in Puerto Princesa that have a speed limit of less than 40 kilometers per hour (KPH) could be exempted from banning tricycles, and second is if the DOTr could still consider giving the city few years of exemption from the directive.
This DILG directive seeks to put more teeth towards the implementation of Republic Act (RA) No. 4136 known as the Land Transportation and Traffic Code.
In a Memorandum Circular No. 2007-01, DILG reiterated the banning of pedicabs and tricycle operations on the national roads that allow speed of more than 40KPH, and prohibits overloading of passengers and goods.
First point: Clarifying the scope of “40KPH” rule
Damasco said there is a new joint memorandum cirular by DILG and DOTr in 2017, which already removed the “40KPH” rule, and regardless of the speed limit emphasized that tricycles are not allowed on national roads.
“Meron kasing kuwestyonable doon sa unang batas na inilabas ng DOTr na [national roads that] exceed 40KPH [ay] bawal. Kung below 40KPH parang puwede ang mga tricycle katulad ng San Pedro at sa Rizal Avenue 30 kilometers per hour lang ang takbo ng mga sasakyan diyan. Iyon ang kinlaro natin,” said Damasco.
“Sabi ni ASec. Alberto Suansing, ang senior consultant for road transport ni Secretary Tugade, hindi talaga puwede. Bawal talaga sa lahat ng national roads [o] sa national highways ang mga tricycles. Katunayahn mayroon silang bagong batas, joint memorandum circular mula sa DILG at DOTr na tinanggal na po ang 40KPH. Talagang nakalagay doon na tricycles are only confined at the city or municipal roads, not on national roads,” he added.
In a nine-minute video released by Damasco Friday in his personal Facebook account, which he said PDN may use for quotes, Suansing reiterated tricycles are ordered to be banned on national highways despite the varying speed limits.
Suansing stated speed limit, which is mostly implemented on the national roads with schools nearby, does not change the roads’ classification as a national highway.
“For example sa national highway may eskwelahan, ang sinasabi ng ating batas kapag ikaw ay tumatakbo sa isang kalsada na mayroong eskwelahan, dapat 20 kilometers per hour lang ang speed limit. But still, it remains ‘yong dinadaanan mo national highway pa rin,” said Suansing.
Second point: Requesting for exemption from the trike ban
Damasco said despite all the efforts to protect the interest of the commuters, tricycle drivers and operators in the city, DOTr assistant secretary and Technical Working Group (TWG) consultant Albert Suansing, other DOTr officials, and the deputy director of Land Transportation Office (LTO) Atty. Roberto Valera, were not able to grant his request.
He said these officials said giving Puerto Princesa an extension before implementing the directive could get them all in trouble with the Ombudsman.
“Sabi nila, ‘Kung gagawin natin ‘yan bigyan kayo ng extension, pare-pareho tayong makakasuhan sa Ombudsman kasi national law ‘yan, batas ‘yan. Hindi natin puwedeng harangin, hindi natin puwedeng hindi ipatupad ang batas,” he said.
Solution at hand 1: Crafting of an ordinance
Damasco said one of the things they will accomplish at the City Council next week is to craft an ordinance that will permit the tricycles to traverse national highways in Puerto Princesa where no alternate routes are accessible.
He said this was also advised by the DOTr so that tricycles may use the national roads without alternative routes.
“Sabi ng taga-DOTr, kung hindi kami gagawa ng ordinansa, ipapatupad nila through LTO na buong highway ng Puerto Princesa, north to south, ipapatupad nila na bawal ang mga tricycles. Mas malaki ang magiging epekto sa mga tricycle operators and drivers,” said Damasco.
Solution at hand 2: DOTr will help in IECs
Damasco further said that DOTr Assistant Secretary and TWG Consultant Albert Suansing will visit the city by next week to help with the information campaigns.
He said Suansing will explain to the stakeholders this national law and on the available assistance the government could give them.
“Pasalamat tayo kay ASec. Suansing na sa Wednesday pupunta siya sa lungsod ng Puerto Princesa para tumulong sa information campaigns [at] pagpapa-intindi sa mga apektado tungkol sa batas na ito,” said Damasco.
In the same video released by Damasco, Suansing advised Puerto Princesans to take advantage of the opportunity of upgrading into better vehicles.
Suansing said the city’s progress will always precede the need for modernization of its public transport system.
“Ngayon po mayroong programa ang Department of Transportation tungkol sa pag-o-overhaul ng public transport system natin dito sa Pilipinas, kasama na diyan of course ang ibang lugar, hindi lang ‘yan concentrated dito sa mga metropolitan areas kundi sa lahat ng bahagi ng Pilipinas, buong Pilipinas ‘yan,” said Suansing.
“Ang akin pong pakiusap samantalahin niyo po ang pagkakataon na iyon na mabago. Iyong tricycle matagal na anting transportasyon iyan,” Suansing added.
Solution at hand 3: Government to help in the upgrade of “Euro Diesel 4 compliant” vehicles
Damasco said one of the alternative choices the affected population can make said is to upgrade to jeepneys and multicabs with environment-friendly engines like of the Euro Diesel 4.
He said under the Public Utility Vehicle Modernization Program (PUVP), the affected sector may avail the assistance of the government, including a subsidy of P80,000 per vehicle unit.
“Iyong grupo ng mga tricycle drivers and operators dapat gumawa na daw ng kooperatiba para makapangutang na sila ng mga sasakyan at bawat unit magbibigay ng eighty-thousand na subsidy ang gobyerno. Free ‘yon, hindi nila babayaran ‘yon, subsidy po ‘yon. Kung bibili sila ng sasakyan na Euro [Diesel] 4 compliant, bibigyan sila ng gobyerno ng otsenta mil,” he said.
“Kung magkano ang halaga ng uutangin nila sa bangko kung wala silang pambili ng multicab or ng modern jeepney [ay] puwede silang pautangin sa DBP, sa mga government banks,” he added.
Earlier, Damasco said there are around 6,000 tricycle units in the city, of which 4,000 have franchises and 2,000 are with special permits.