Habal-Habal To Be Legalized in the Philippines

Congress has approved a bill regulating the operation of habal-habal, a two-wheel means of transportation in Bohol and many other provinces that is most practical in traveling to rural areas.

Also known as motorcycle-for-hire, habal-habal has been regarded as the "king of barrio road" since it can get to areas no longer negotiable or passable to four-wheel vehicles.

House Bill 3726, passed by the House of Representatives on third and final reading, grants

autonomous authority to the local government units (LGUs) like towns and cities to regulate and control habal-habal operation.

Thousands of poor Boholanos drive such type of passenger unit despite their illegal operation just to earn and sustain the daily needs of their families.

Rep. Edgar Chatto said legitimizing habal-habal operation is one approach countering poverty since as many families not just in this part of the country have survived from it.

The bill, hoped to get a parallel Senate enactment, is a consolidation of HBs 205, 1107 and 2872 respectively filed by Chatto and Cebuano solons Reps. Ramon Durano and Antonio Cuenco.

From the Senate or Upper House, an approved bill ought to be signed by the Philippine president to be fully enacted into law.

The First District lawmaker of Bohol said it is not an exaggeration to admit that many children in Bohol have been educated out of their fathers' or brothers' income from driving habal-habal.

The LGUs can generate additional revenues from habal-habal franchise, business permit and regulatory fees.

Alfredo Gutierrez, Jr., vice president of the Tagbilaran Private Motor Service Association (TPMA), estimated the habal-habal operating in Tagbilaran City alone at not less than 1,000 units.

But the figure already included those which are based in nearby localities yet park in certain city areas as their departure points from earliest dawn to the dead of next night.

Once legalized and regulated, the habal-habal, their owners and drivers, as well as substitute drivers, will be officially registered by the LGUs.

The said transport group can be a reliable partner in maintaining peace and order once its workers undergo proper seminar and training, according to some policemen.

Authorities said the law can control the indiscriminately growing number of habal-habal units in contrast to the present condition in which anybody can just operate his motorcycle as a habal-habal.

Unregulated habal-habal operation can create trouble among the very members of the said transport sector, the police hinted.

The riding public has observed that even the policies and rules of habal-habal organizations have been blatantly violated by their many members.

One of these is prohibiting a habal-habal driver from smoking or being drunk while fetching passengers.

Timely enough, the provincial board of Iloilo just transmitted to the Sangguniang Panlalawigan here its resolution expressing unwanted consequences of unregulated habal-habal business.