“No law shall be passed abridging the freedom of speech, of expression, or of the press... (Sec. 4, 1987 Philippine Constitution)”
ZAMBOANGA CITY/09 June 2012 by Sheila Covarrubias—Pedicab laws are now being subjected to rigid review by the Department of Interior and Local Government in lieu of a request for guidance and clarification from Mayor Celso Lobregat.
The Chief Executive two weeks ago has sought clarification and guidance concerning operations of pedicabs, the three-wheeled bicycles with closed rear seats for passengers, in the light of the City’s campaign against all forms of obstructions along national highways to promote public safety and convenience. Several barangay officials have asked for reconsideration of the city’s drive citing possible inconveniences that would be encountered by students, teachers and parents with the opening of classes effective June 4.
Lobregat has personally informed Local Government Secretary Jesse Robredo about his request during the latter’s visit to Zamboanga City Tuesday, June 5. He likewise reminded DILG-9 director Faizal Abutazil about the same.
The matter has been referred to the DILG Legal Department, according to Mayor Lobregat stressing that he expects the DILG to come up with the guidelines and clarification soon.
Pending the response from the DILG, the mayor has put in place temporary conditions or guidelines for the operation of pedicabs along national highway starting June 4 intended to help in bringing and fetching pupils, teachers and parents to and from the schools.
Pedicab operators and drivers must strictly comply with the conditions set or face sanctions.
The conditions include: pedicabs must be duly registered; pedicab driver must be at least 18 years of age; only 2 passengers are allowed for every pedicab excluding the driver; pedicabs are only allowed to use national highways or roads from 6-8am, 11am-1pm, and 4-6pm exclusively to bring pupils, teachers and parents to and from schools; there shall be absolutely no parking within, near, or in front of school premises, or along national highways or roads and that no pedicab shall be allowed to use the national highways or roads especially for other purposes, except to bring pupils, teahcers and parents to and from school.
The guidelines also emphasize that no pedicab shall be allowed to ferry passengers to and from the commercial area or district of the barangay that passes along national highways, nor shall any pedicab be allowed to parking along national highways.
The laws and issuances concerning pedicab operation include Commonwealth Act 548 entitled “An Act to Regulate and Control the Use of and Traffic on National Roads a well as constructions along the same prescribing penalties for violation thereof” which sets the policy of promoting safe transit and avoid obstructions on national roads; Department of Public Works and Highways Circular No. 21 dated June 13, 1969 declaring that except when crossing a national road or street, it is unlawful for pedicabs to use the national highways or roads and Ordinance 92-012 enacted on Dec. 28, 1992 entitled An Ordinance Regulating the Operation of Pedicabs in the city of Zamboanga and providing penalties for violation thereof.
The DILG also issued Memorandum Circular No. 2007-01 dated January 2, 2007 and reiterated in DILG MC 2011-68 on May 9, 2011 which seeks and reminds local authorities to adhere to the guidelines and standards banning pedicab operations along national highways. The same circular however, provides that tricycles may be allowed to operate along national highways, if there is no other alternative road network available such as routes beyond the town proper. (Sheila Covarrubias)
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