imyeyes-banner-sqIn My EyesBy Edward B. Antonio

Trikes to be permanently banned in national highways?

Are the days of the poor man’s tricycle already numbered, fellas?

Last February 20, the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) has ordered that all barangay roads should be cleared of obstructions in a span of 75 days. Part of the agency’s Road Clearing Operations 2.0 involves the clearing of all local roads in order to improve traffic flow.

 The DILG has released Memorandum Circular 2020 – 036 which bans tricycles, pedicabs, and motorized pedicabs from plying national highways. According to DILG Secretary Edgardo Año, the new circular is also part of the recent road clearing operations spearheaded by the agency.

“Matagal na nating ipinagbabawal ang mga tricycles at pedicabs sa national highway ngunit ang daming pasaway. Hindi lang ito nakakasagabal sa daan kundi nagiging sanhi ng sakuna sa kalye. Kaya dapat nang maging mahigpit ang mga mayor at ang pulis at siguruhing maipapatupad ang ban na ito,” said Año.

Aside from being banned to travel along the said roads, Año added that tricycles are also not allowed to make a U-turn on national highways.

“Local governments must review and modify tricycle routes according to the ban and are encouraged to include in their plans the construction of local roads or overpasses where the tricycles can operate,” the Secretary added.

Those that fail to follow the new circular will be warranted with a show-cause order. Failure to provide a sufficient response shall be ground for the filing of appropriate administrative cases pursuant to Section 60 of the Local Government Code and other laws and policies. The circular also orders that the Philippine National Police (PNP) to help local leaders enforce the said ban.

Under the same Memorandum Circular, the DILG also urged cities and municipalities to create a tricycle task force separate from the tricycle regulatory boards in order to formulate and review the tricycle route. The task force will be composed of the Mayor as chairman, the chief of police as vice chairman, and the Sanggunian committee chair on transportation or public safety, the president of the Liga ng mga Barangay, the head of the tricycle regulatory board, the head of the Department of Public Order and Safety, the planning and development officer, the head of the traffic management office, and the local government operations officer as members.

The task force is tasked to meet with stakeholders in order to rationalize all tricycle routes as a way to better enforce the ban, identify national roads within the jurisdiction of the LGU, and determine the present and proposed routes in a draft of a tricycle route plan (TRP) within 30 days from the issuance of the memorandum.

On top of Republic Act 4136 or the Land Transportation and Traffic Code, prior DILG directives – DILG Memorandum Circulars 2007-11, 2011-68 and 2020-004 – have already been issued prohibiting the presence of tricycles and pedicabs on national roads and prescribing the operating conditions and franchising of tricycles.

Netizens from all over the country have varied reactions.

A carowner from the 1st District of Ilocos Sur says: “In my own opinion this is very unfair not only to the tricycle owners and drivers but also to the commuters as well. I am not a tricycle owner, so, I may just simply say “I don’t care”, but, I cannot. It is still to be implemented starting Monday but I can now feel the negative impact it will create. All I can say Sir is that, tricycle owners and drivers are also taxpayers. The taxes they pay regardless of the amount is a parcel of the government fund in repairing our national highways. Why now prohibit tricycles of these taxpayers from using the national highway? This is just my humble opinion.”

A private tricycle owner, a government official who uses his trike to report to work daily says, responding to the comment above: “The humble trike is the house to school service of poor people who can not afford the automobile; it is the bread and butter of many “joker” and barangay trike drivers; it is the immediate service vehicle of students trying to catch up with their 1st period in the morning; it is the service vehicle of parents to fetch their elementary and high school children in the afternoon; it is the service vehicle of sari-sari store owners from the grocery mall to their stores and vice versa and you are right, they pay their road users’ tax, too. Sana i-consider ng ating pamahalaan na gamitin nila ang highway shoulder – strictly highway shoulder lamang – para naman magamit nila sa mga purposes na nabanggit ko.

When the DILG directive reached the LGUs last week of February, I painstakingly interviewed some police officers and they were one in saying that as of this writing, there is no direct order yet for them to accost tricycles plying the highway outer lanes or shoulder.

“We only apprehend those trikes using the main national highway thoroughfares,” they said.

But it seems there is a little hope for these trike drivers. Last February 22, a trike association asked the DILG to review the ban. Sunstar reports:

A NATIONAL group of tricycle operators and drivers is calling on the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) to review its order banning tricycles, pedicabs and motorized pedicabs from national highways and major roads.

Ariel Lim, president of the National Confederation of Tricycle Operators and Drivers Association of the Philippines (Nactodap), said the DILG has to coordinate with local government units (LGUs) first.

“To ban tricycles on national highways, they should first ask the permission of local government units and not threaten their chief executives to be sanctioned for failure to form a task force,” said Lim.

He cited Republic Act (RA) 7160, known as the Local Government Code, which states that in the absence of alternative routes, local government units can create an ordinance allowing tricycles and pedicabs to ply national thoroughfares.

RA 7160 dictates that the Sanggunian can formulate an ordinance allowing tricycles to traverse major thoroughfares such as national highways, provided that there is no other alternative route within their jurisdiction.

According to Lim, tricycle operators and drivers are high taxpayers in the Land Transportation Office (LTO) through the road users tax as they have around 1.7 million units of tricycles that ply all over
the nation.

“They want us out of the highway? Why is there a lane for bicycles which do not even pay for taxes? They should have given us a lane on the outer right side on both lanes,” said Lim.

This is indeed a very controversial issue, fellas.

But it would not have been an issue if it’s first week of May 2022! ●