When the Supreme Court recently released their ruling through a TRO or a Temporary Restraining Order setting aside a previous Preliminary Injunction granted by the Mandaluyong City Court that stopped the LTO (Land Transportation Office) and the LTFRB (Land Transportation and Franchising Regulatory Board) and other government agencies from preventing the common motorcycle carrier Angkas from operating, many of the 25,000 accredited bikers resigned to the prospect that their newfound means of livelihood would be ceased from providing food on the table.
This is despite the fact that the Restraining Order was only “temporary” while the merits of both contending sides are further placed under scrutiny through the legal microscope by the highest court of the land.
The apprehension is not baseless because by practice it seems that the norm in Philippine jurisprudence is that the word “temporary” in many of the country’s restraining orders can stay very long, some even forever.
As a knee jerk reaction, the biking community including those that are not directly affected by the SC ruling, probably as a demonstration of unity or perhaps they too make use of the transport mode, took to the streets to demonstrate their protest against the ruling. And the DOTr’s stern orders to the LTO and the LTFRB to apprehend all Angkas bikers who defy the order were no way gestures of appeasement.
But fortunately cooler heads among the bikers prevailed and the legal road was decided as the best path to pursue. DBDOYC, the operator of Angkas, said in its motion asking the SC to lift its TRO that their zero casualty record belies the allegations that its accredited drivers and their passengers are prone to accidents.
It added that the DOTr and the LTFRB cannot attribute the figures of motorcycle accidents and road deaths to Angkas alone. Since it resumed operations in September, DBDOYC claimed it has registered 5.8 million rides with zero deaths, zero severe injuries and .003 percent “minor and major scratches, bruises or abrasions.”
But then all these facts and figures are all down the drain when the “temporary” in the TRO goes for a long time.
But hold your horses. As the old adage goes, “It ain’t over, till it’s over”.
It has been reported that the DOTr through Secretary Art Tugade is now singing another song making a 180-degree turn regarding the issue. After issuing marching orders to the LTO and LTFRB to strictly implement the Supreme Court TRO on Angkas, the new tune says that while waiting for the SC to rule from temporary to finality, the DOTr shall form a Technical Working Group (TWG) to study the prospect of using motorcycles for public transport.
The TWG has been tasked to look into the following aspects should it recommend the possibility of using the mode of transport for public use, like; the type of motorcycle to be used, its specs as to its seat configuration and for how many passengers, safety gear to be required and very important, accountability for accidents, to name some.
Guys in the biking community, definitely the idea is not dead in the water. Keep on working guys, and the legal path is the best way to go.
There are lessons to be learned here on both sides.
For our friends in the biking community, I think that considering the kind of horror commuters go through daily due to the chaotic traffic situation in the metro, you’ve got an indispensable service that can make commuting life less miserable for many of our countrymen. But then in a democracy we live in, we just can’t do whatever we want to do uncontrolled and unregulated no matter how much function and benefit it offers.
For those in government, it’s best to talk when the brain and the heart are already engaged. You cannot be living inside the legal box all the time. Things need to be weighed thoroughly for their advantage and disadvantage before passing a “no, can’t be” sentence—“and listen to others, even to the dull and the ignorant; they too have their story.”
Safety should never be sacrificed for convenience
Remember the true story of a blind person who was able to get a driver’s license here in the Philippines many decades ago?
With all due respect to my good friend, Assec. Edgar Galvante, the dynamic head of the LTO who, as a way of life “burns the midnight oil” just thinking of ways and means to have an ever-improving land transport in the country, but I see some wisdom in what some people I have talked to are saying that having Medical Certificates as a requirement prior to having a driver’s license allowed to just be e-mailed may be dangerous to the safety of other road users.
In this age of “fake this and fake that,” an emailed Medical Certificate can come as close to a fake driver’s license, which you still see a lot of nowadays.
I can understand and appreciate the tons of convenience this system gives to the applicant, but at what price when not done right.
I just recently had my LTOPF (License To Own and Posses Firearms) and PTCFOR (Permit To Carry Firearms Outside of Residence) renewed and knowing that General Val De Leon, the head of FEO (Firearms and Explosive Office) is running a tight ship in there, what a pleasure I had going through personally the neuro and drug tests required (a far cry from decades of “non appearance” in the past) with the knowledge that some nut is not going to be allowed to own a gun despite not passing the tests.
I also understand, Assec. Galvante the challenges you face budget-wise in running the LTO and knowing how competent you run your office, I’m sure you have some locked-in safeguards in this system.
With that said, I’m confident that a “blind licensed driver” is surely a thing of the past.