Senate president pro tempore Ralph Recto said Sunday that the government should allow motorcycle taxis back on the streets to expand the transport options of the public and help the livelihood of tens of thousands.
“This is one job-creating public service that will not cost the government a single centavo,” Recto said.
In a press release obtained by Palawan News, Recto said at a time when many sectors are looking at the government for bailouts, here is one that does not need any except the go signal to operate again, Recto said.
“Airline fleets are mostly grounded, and the few flying are cruising on the dangerously low altitude of funds. In contrast, motorcycle taxis are ready to ferry people to work at a moment’s notice without need for a government financial push,” Recto said.
Theoretically, he said one motorcycle taxi driver back on the road is one assistance recipient off the list and “a big chunk of the cost of gas they buy are taxes that help pay for health services.”
“Wala rin silang hinihinging Christmas bonus. Ang simpleng hiling ay makapasada muli, para hindi mapait na Paskong tuyo ang kanilang sasapitin (They also don’t ask for Christmas bonus. Their simple request is to return on the road so that they don’t have dry Christmas),” Recto added.
Recto, however, said the motorcycle taxis should only be allowed on the road again if they will meet “stringent health and safety standards” the government will impose.
“This part is non-negotiable. If barriers, face masks and face shields, disinfected helmets are necessary to protect rider and driver, then these should be made mandatory,” he said.
Recto urged health experts “to study if the three layers of protection provided by a barrier, a helmet and a face mask worn by both driver and rider in an open-air setting are as safe as the inside of a closed air-conditioned bus that has 25 passengers.”
He said the resumption of motorcycle operations can even be done gradually.
“Hindi naman (not) mass flag off. But initially in numbers sufficient to meet the passenger demand,” he added.
Recto has been advocating for “safe public transportation” as the key to restarting an economy the pandemic has flattened.
“Transport is in the league of treat, track and trace. Breadwinners have to earn. They have to go to work in safe transport which does not give space for coronavirus to hitch a ride,” he said. “Maraming trabahante ang napilitang mag-resign dahil walang masakyan. O kung meron man, matagal ang commute dahil kulang ang maaaring masakyan (Many workers opted to resign due to lack of transportation).”
This, he said, is reflected on the national adult joblessness rate which soared to 45.5 percent of the labor force in July, per a survey of the Social Welfare Stations.
“This corresponds to 27.3 million jobless Filipinos,” he said. “One culprit is the lack of transportation. We’ve given too much focus on ease of doing business for corporations. We should also find ways on how there can be ease of going to work for employees.”