El Nido residents fed up with abusive tricycle drivers in town recently vented their ire on social media in hopes of getting the municipal government to take action.
In a Facebook post, business owner and expat Judith Distal complained about the prevalent practice of local tricycle drivers to overcharge the riding public particularly foreigners.
“Locals are not given a ride because higher-paying foreigners are preferred,” she said.
Distal’s post has encouraged other Facebook users, both locals and non-locals, to share similar experiences they encountered in El Nido.
One citizen, Marie Chastel, recalled how a driver overcharged her short ride to a restobar in Barangay Corong-Corong.
“It was noon and I was in town when a tricycle driver stopped and told me it’s P100. I said, ‘No way.’ He replied, ‘No problem, so you can find another tricycle.’ And it was not in a nice way,” she recounted.
Allen Maitri Enrique opted to “walk in the dark” at 7 p.m. sometime during the new year week after she was asked to pay P100 from Maremegmeg Beach, also in Bgy. Corong-Corong.
“Then a local offered a ride at the back of his motorbike. Love that El Nido locals are so helpful, far greater than trike drivers,” she continued.
James Relucio said most tricycle drivers will ignore a passenger asking for a ride “unless you’re going to Nacpan or Las Cabañas or other inland tours.” He claimed that customers needing to travel within the town proper can only get a ride after agreeing to pay P50.
Municipal Ordinance No. 114 provides for fare rates going to 26 destinations around the town. In poblacion, the minimum fare per person is supposedly only P10. The ordinance also establishes the tricycle-for-hire fare per hour, in which tricycle drivers can ask for P100 from commuters going around poblacion.
“They have tariffs but the problem is they don’t accept commuters per person, only hire. Maybe they should have some tricycle that are only for commuting, with signs in them commute only, then the other hire only,” Distal said.
“I am sure there are many tricycles who would be willing to choose commuters only and would be getting more rides that those waiting for hires,” she added.
Sonny Monje, El Nido’s Traffic Monitoring Group (TMG) supervisor, said they have received around 40 related complaints since beginning this year, most of them during Holy Week.
“They piled up and we’re trying to act on them, but our efforts aren’t enough since we’re only 16 who go to the field to do the monitoring,” he told Palawan News recently.
Of all of the complaints the TMG received, Monje said only one tricycle driver got suspended for half a month.
“If he repeats the violation, both his driver’s license and tricycle franchise will be revoked,” he added.
Meanwhile, Monje said they had acted as arbitrator as other complainants reached amicable settlement with the erring driver.
“If it’s beyond our level to settle the dispute, we refer it to our quasi-judicial body, headed by the mayor, who decide on it,” he said.
Monje said they have requested the Municipal Tricycle Franchising and Regulatory Board (MTFRB) and the Sangguniang Bayan’s transportation committee to hold a dialogue with the three tricycle operators and drivers’ associations in town. He added that the association heads could help in disciplining their members.
“Right now, what we do is ‘head to head.’ If there’s a problem, we call the attention of the erring driver,” he said.
Monje also advised the public to report and get the franchise body found inside the tricycle for them to easily identify the name of the violating tricycle driver. The TMG fines P500 for overcharging and repeating violators will be subjected to franchise cancellation.
Vice mayor Leonor Corral, who heads the MTFRB, told Palawan News they have already recommended this week the removal of tricycle-for-hire fare per hour within poblacion.
“If you’re from the terminal, going here to poblacion, your three passengers, for example, have to pay only P30. Asking them P100 is wrong,” she said, adding that they would be pushing for the ordinance’s amendment.