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Motorcycle Riders Seek Regulation of ‘Habal-Habals’

A group of motorcycle riders is calling on the government to recognize motorcycles for hire, which are popularly known as “habal-habals,” as an alternative mode of transportation for commuters.

The Riders of the Philippines (ROTP) is likewise urging for the review of various regulations being imposed by national and local government agencies–such as the no-helmet and half-face helmet ordinances, penalizing back-riding of males on motorcycles, and segregation of motorcycles on national roads, among others, as these discriminate motorcycle riders and limit their mobility.

“We are pushing for equal treatment of motorcycle riders. There are over 14-15 million riders on the streets today based on sales reports from vehicle dealers and manufacturers but only a few are registered in the LTO (Land Transportation Office), there is a problem also in registration,” ROTP Spokesperson Jobert Bolanos said in a press conference held in Quezon City last Thursday, May 24.

“If all of these were registered or we ensure that LTO guidelines are being followed that all vehicles should be registered we might see the real figures. So we are having problems with getting plates and stickers aside from other concerns,” he said.

Bolanos likewise said that his group is re-educating their members on road discipline and following traffic rules to ensure the safety of their passengers.

“We understand that most number of accidents are attributed to motorcycles, we do not deny that. There are many factors to consider and we cannot automatically assume that road accidents are the fault of riders,” he added.

The group is calling on Congress for the passage of a unified motorcycle law that will pave way for the legalization of motorcycle taxis.

For its part, transport safety group Transport Watch said that one-third of Filipinos own motorcycles and around half of those who own these two-wheeled vehicles use them for livelihood.

A recent survey by the Social Weather Stations showed that 32 percent of Filipino households own motorcycles while eight percent own three-wheeled vehicles.

Only eight percent of households in the country own four-wheeled vehicles such as cars, sports utility vehicles, jeeps, jeepneys, trucks, etc.

The survey likewise showed that among households that own motorcycles, 51 percent use them for livelihood such as for renting out, tricycles, business service vehicle, aside from going to work.

“By class, the percentage of usage of motorcycles for livelihood is highest in socioeconomic class E, in which 59 percent in the class who own two-wheeled vehicles use them in earning a living. This is followed by class D with 50 percent while the lowest percentage is in the combined ABC class with 48 percent,” according to Transport Watch member George Royeca.

“All these figures point to one clear fact: that the motorcycle is indeed the mode of transportation that the Filipino masses use not only for personal reasons but also for their livelihood,” he added.

The Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) has earlier said that motorcycles could not be used as public utility vehicles and are considered as “colorum” unless Congress comes up with a new legislation on “habal-habals.”

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