Virac mayor gets SB nod to set tricycle fares via EO

Virac Mayor Sinforoso Sarmiento Jr. is expected to issue an executive order adjusting existing tricycle fares after the Sangguniang Bayan approved a measure authorizing him to do so in times of calamity or emergency.

A source told the Tribune that last May 14, 2020, the SB Committee on Public Utility and Transportation discussed the draft resolution proposed by Councilor Reynante Bagadiong enacting an ordinance amending Municipal Ordinance No. 2019-01 by providing an addendum to the procedure prescribing fare rates for the operation of tricycles for hire in Virac.

Present during the meeting were the municipal administrator, the president of the Federation of Virac Tricycle Operators and Drivers Association (FEDVITODA), the Liga ng mga Barangay president, traffic enforcers and representatives from the commuters association and the Virac police station.

The report was adopted on May 19 and was passed on third reading a week later on May 26, with the measure presumably transmitted to the mayor’s office during the first week of June.

Citing the need to grant additional functions to the chief executive relative to the immediate determination of appropriate adjustments in tricycle fares during calamities and emergencies, the ordinance sent to Mayor Sarmiento for approval adds a subsection to Section 5 of the existing ordinance.

Under Section 5a, the municipal mayor, through an executive order and subject to existing declared national policies and regulations, may temporarily suspend, for a period not exceeding six (6) months or unless the state of emergency or calamity has been lifted, the implementation of existing fare  rates and adjust it to attune to the needs of the time.

Section 6 was also amended to clarify as a violation the collection of more than the prescribed fare rate unless consented to by the concerned passenger.

The ball on the proposed measure is now in the hands of the chief executive, who has faced criticism for his alleged failure to act on the riding public’s complaints against overcharging tricycle drivers during the quarantine period.

It may be recalled that last May 4, 2020, the FEDVITODA appealed to the mayor to adjust the fares considering the difficulty of meeting the “family’s daily subsistence” while the limited capacity scheme is implemented.

Last Friday (June 5), the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) said local government units (LGUs) should issue a fare matrix before allowing tricycles to operate in order to prevent commuters from being overcharged.

Undersecretary Jonathan Malaya also said it is up to the local government to impose violations for tricycle drivers who are taking advantage of the pandemic to overcharge passengers.

“Since tricycle regulation is devolved to LGUs under the Local (Government) Code, the measures for violation of LGU fare matrix is dependent on guidelines to be issued by LGUs,” he said.

For example, he said, the Manila City government has ordered that tricycle drivers and pedicabs are only allowed to charge P20 for the first kilometer of the trip. For the succeeding trips with half-kilometer, P5 will be charged.

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