MANILA - Legalizing the use of motorcycles in public transport needs an amendment of the law, the Department of Transportation (DOTr) said Saturday, as it sought time to study such proposal.
In a statement, the DOTr said an existing law on land transportation "clearly does not allow motorcycles to be classified as 'for hire' or for public utility."
"Allowing motorcycle taxis to operate as public transport would go against the Temporary Restraining Order (TRO) issued by the Supreme Court, thereby exposing DOTr officials to criminal liability or contempt of court," the agency said.
He was referring to the court order that halted operations of Angkas, an app-based motorcycle taxi service.
"This is why the DOTr has maintained that the best recourse for conversion of motorcycle taxis to public transport is amendment of the law," it said.
While Congress has yet to pass a measure that would amend Republic Act 4136 or the "Land Transportation and Traffic Code," the DOTr sought more time to craft regulations for motorcycle taxis.
"It does not intend to antagonize Angkas. In fact, the DOTr has welcomed motorcycle groups in discussions to thresh out the requirements and other contingent issues," the department said.
"These issues are ultimately directed at regulation for passenger safety and nothing else," it said.
The House of Representatives committee on Metro Manila development in January called on the agency to draft such guidelines pending amendment of the law restricting use of motorbikes in public conveyance, as it favored the legalization of motorcycle taxis.
Also last month, the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) urged motorcycle drivers to stop servicing passengers while the legalization of the use of motorcycles for public transport is still being discussed.
Angkas gained popularity for providing cheaper ride-hailing services and faster commute through Metro Manila's traffic-choked roads.