Habal-habal ban seen to affect livelihood, drug ops

The Supreme Court ruling on Angkas app mirrored the brunt to habal-habals or the motorcycle taxis in the provinces.

Having been tolerated for decades, habal-habals grew to around 5,000 units just in Bohol alone.

Now, with the Supreme Court ruling declaring the operation of Angkas in Manila as illegal based on the illegality of the use of motorcycles in ferrying passengers and goods for a fee, the ruling is also imposed on habal-habals in the provinces.

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This was according to LTO-7 Regional Director Victor Emmanuel Caindec.

The drivers who will be apprehended will be fined, “while their motorcycles will be impounded, Caindec warned.

This was echoed by LTO-Tagbilaran Chief JubilleDionson.

Dionson said they already received the memorandum from LTO-Central Office, ordering the arrest of habal-habal drivers.

However, LTO-Tagbilaran will postpone its implementation after the Christmas holidays to give “habal-habal” drivers an opportunity to earn even just until the holidays are over so they could also have something to spend for the Noche Buena and the New Year’s Day revelries.

Local government units (LGUs) in Bohol are also concerned about the loss of livelihood of habal-habal drivers in their respective jurisdictions.

However, the League of Municipalities in the Philippines (LMP)-Bohol Chapter is still to convene to make a stand on the issue.

In some rural towns, there are around 20-50 habal-habal drivers, while the number doubles in the city- -where other modes of transportation and the roads are not that difficult to negotiate by four-wheeled vehicles, ironically.

Associations of habal-habal drivers said they are going to draft a statement to ask for the intervention of the officials in their areas, considering that not all of them are beneficiaries of the conditional cash transfer program of the government.

Some habal-habal drivers admitted they have long been aware about the earlier pronouncements of the Land Transportation and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) that their business has no legal basis.

They also admitted that they learned, in separate occasions during their first applications for driver’s license, from LTO trainers that motorcycles are supposedly not for hire and it is illegal to convey passengers for a fee using motorcycles.

Caindec, for his part, explained that apprehending habal-habal drivers is based on Section 7(a) of Republic Act No. 4136 or the Land Transportation and Traffic Code which “prohibits the use of motorcycles for public transport”.

The present round of the controversy started with the issue on Angkas where there is an Angkas app through which the passengers would book their ride like the Uber and Grab.

Uber and Grab which uses four-wheeled vehicles, however, are under Department Order 2015-011.

Caindec explained that Angkas and habal-habal are illegal as well as other “hailing app using motorcycles to convey passengers with a fee”.

DRUGS IN BIKES

The other concern besetting the habal-habals is the involvement of some of their drivers in drug peddling.

Prior to the Angkas controversy, police intelligence network already received information that some drug rings are recruiting habal-habal drivers to peddle drugs, while some had been found to be drug users.

Habal-habal drivers, allegedly, have the advantage in the mobility aspect of the illegal business and also in illegal swertres operations.

Some habal-habal drivers reacted to the report, saying it created a stigma on all of them even if they are simply trying to earn a living.

According to them, the concern might be more relevant in other progressive cities and not in Bohol and it is unfair for them to bear the brunt.

They said they have been transparent in their services and in fact, most of them already have regular customers, especially those going home late at night or the wee hours when public utility vehicles are no longer available.

These people know them and could vouch that they are not into the illegal drug trade.



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