LTO Administrative Order AHS 2008-015 is anti-poor, discriminatory
With all due respect to our executive officials in the LTO and the national government, the Administrative Order regulating the operation of motorcycles in the country (AHS 2008-015) is patently unconstitutional, therefore invalid on its face. It violates the due process, and equal protection clauses of our constitution. More important, it is discriminatory. There is a civil code provision which says that administrative regulations (like AHS-2008-015) are valid only when they are not contrary to the constitution. I am very much alarmed at the formulation of this administrative order for it obviously did not hear many of our poor Filipinos, specially those in the rural country-sides. It is appears to me that our poor rural folks have again been disregarded in the formulation of executive policies. I am specifically referring, and taking the cudgels of the operators or drivers of habal-habal, and their passengers, patrons, customers, who rely on habal-habal as their only mode of transport to carry on their daily lives. Priority should be for our brother Filipinos in the remote towns, who for the large part of this democratic system, have remained voiceless in the formulation of policies and laws. The LTO administrative regulation totally forgets the words of the late President Magsaysay that “those who have less in life must have more in law”
What is the habal-habal?
For the information of our elitist policy makers in imperial Manila, there is a mode of transport in the vast rural and remote barrios in country called “Habal-habal”. This mode of transport uses motorcycles, which is now the subject of regulation of AHS-2008-015. Habal-habal is the principal, if not the only mode of transport availed of by our brother and sisters (yes, they are also Filipinos) in the hinterlands. Where the buses, jeepneys , and tricycles no longer dare to tread due to the absence of any roads, owing largely to government non-feasance, it is the habal-habal which people rely on for transport. The habal-habal comes to the rescue in places where government’s basic services of good roads and transport are absent. The habal-habal is a principal component of the economic progress in the hinterlands. The habal-habal, aside from transporting passengers, also transport, sacks of rice, basic food commodities like sugar, salt, flour, sari-sari store items, even pigs and poultry stuff. That is reality out there.
Prejudicial to the poorer Filipinos
Here comes AHS-2008-015 which virtually eliminates the habal-habal, and annihilate them from existence because of heavy fines and penalties in the government regulation. Imagine the prohibitions: The LTO administrative regulation punishes those who use slippers, sandals, or are barefooted. The LTO wants the habal-habal drivers to use “leather boots”. Many of these drivers are on a hand-to-mouth existence. Now the government wants them to drive motorcycles using “leather boots”. Isn't this crazy?
The LTO regulation mentions protective gears for motorcycle drivers, namely: helmet, goggles, leather boots and protective clothing such as heavy pants, heavy jackets, leather gloves and rain suit Now, how does the government expect the country’s, motorcycle drivers, let alone the finanacially marginalized habal-habal operators and drivers to afford these requirements described as "protective devices"? Did the government ever think of the economic welfare of the habal-habal operators when they crafted this regulation?
No cargo allowed
According to this LTO regulation “The motorcycle or scooter shall not carry cargo other than the saddle bags or luggage carriers specifically designed and approved by the DTI”. This provision will virtually put the habal-habal industry into extinction. Have our government policy makers even seen a habal-habal? A habal-habal is always modified to allow it to carry cargo like sacks of rice, flour, corn, basic staple, etc. Will the government now disallow habal-habal from carrying these cargo? What alternative transporter is the government giving to our brothers and sisters in the hinterlands?
Only one passenger allowed
Another provision that will render the habal-habal as an endangered specie is the requirement of only a single passenger. Again, did the government and the LTO ever consider the reality in the remote barrios where the habal-habal motors have to carry several passengers for a fee? If only one passenger is allowed, how will the habal-habal industry survive? How can the people in the hinterlands live in mobility if only one passenger is allowed for habal-habal? Does the government have any alternative?
Prohibitive penalty for habal-habal
If this LTO regulation is implemented, the habal-habal driver will have to pay the following penalties on the initial apprehension: (1) failure to wear helmet: P1,500 (2) for carrying more than one passenger P1,000 (3) For modifying their motors P2,000 (4) For wearing slippers (or being barefooted) while driving P500
Thus at the very least, each habal-habal drivers stand to pay P5,000 for the initial offense.
I maintain the position that LTO regulation AHS-2008-015 is unconstitutional and invalid for violating the due process, and equal protection clauses of our constitution. A significant number of Filipinos, the habal-habal operators/drivers, and the poor customers in the remote barrios have been deprived of their opportunity to be heard of their concerns. The LTO regulation is highly oppressive against our humble, lowly and poorer bothers and sisters living in the remote parts of our country who solely rely on the habal habal as their only mode of transport. The LTO regulation does not address the concerns of the poor and the voiceless sectors who are affected. The equal protection clause proceeds from a belief that all men are created equal. But this LTO regulation treats a poorer sector --- the habal-habal operators and patrons--- differently. Many of habal-habal drivers make a living barefooted. Many of them, out of poverty, wear rotten slippers in going to work. But the government penalizes them, through this LTO regulation. In other words, the habal-habal drivers are punished for being poor. The LTO regulation terribly discriminates against the poor.
I think this LTO regulation must be scrapped.
I am contemplating initiating a class suit against this unconstitutional administrative issuance in behalf of not only the habal habal operators and drivers, but the poor, ordinary passengers, whose impoverished conditions in the far-flung barrios would be worsened if the government enforces the regulation against the habal habals, and eventually exterminate them out of existence.
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