Senate Bill 1341 filed to amend RA 4136, legalizing motorcycles for hire

Just recently, lawmakers in the Senate filed Senate Bill 1341, amending sections 3 and 7 of the Republic Act 4136, otherwise known as the Land Transportation and Traffic Code of the Philippines. RA 4136, which was signed into law in 1964, prohibits the use of any motorcycles as a mode of for-hire transportation, like a taxi. This appears to be a more comprehensive version than the original Senate Bill 128.

Senate Bill (SB) 1341, known as “The Motorcycles-for-hire Act” amends Section 3 of RA 4136, adding the definition of a motorcycle-for-hire, that includes weight limits, a minimum 125 cc displacement and can at least travel faster than 50 kilometers per hour.

Senate Bill 1341 also amends Section 7 (d) of RA 4136, adding the motorcycles-for-hire and mandates the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) to regulate these motorcycle taxis.

According to the Senate of the Philippines, Senate Bill 1341 is now awaiting a second reading. The bill is still in its early stages as has yet to pass a second and third reading. In addition, there needs to be a bicameral to create a final version of the bill, based on the House and Senate versions, for the President to sign into law.

An uphill road

Last year, House Bill (HB) 8959 was filed in congress to amend certain provisions of RA 4136. Similarly, HB 8959 aims to remove the clause on the 56-year-old RA 4136 that prohibits the use of motorcycles as a regulated for-hire platform. Further, HB 8959 requires the operators of motorcycle taxis to have insurance coverage for their riders, passengers and third parties in the event of an accident or road mishap. HB 8959 was unanimously approved by congress on February 4, 2019, on its third and final reading. 

Perhaps what separates HB 8959 from SB 1341 is the inclusion of “habal-habal,” or owner-operated motorcycles for hire, which is a different system from the 3 MC Taxi Pilot Study participants, JoyRide, Angkas and Move It. Habal-habals are already an illegal yet persistent staple in provincial transportation. Theses habal-habals, sometimes called “skylab” when making use of wooden planks to seat 5 or more passengers in certain provincial jurisdictions, are basically motorcycles-for-hire and rides around a prescribed route, much like a regular passenger jeepney.

HB 8959 mandates the Department of Transportation (DOTr) and the LTFRB, together with the concerned Local Government Units (LGU), to prescribe the routes and establish terminals for these habal-habals, pretty much like jeepney or tricycle terminals that are already regulated and operating.