When the pandemic struck the country hard during the first quarter of the year, the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) decided to set aside its implementation of an order banning 3-wheeled vehicles from the national highway. It was a policy that was deemed necessary at that time and was largely informed by metropolitan traffic situations where tricycles posed serious risks of vehicular accidents.
At that time, there had already been a clamor from local governments in provinces where their situation is such that tricycles are often a significant component of local transport systems. This is very much true in the case of Puerto Princesa City and most other municipalities.
The pandemic lockdowns nullified the raging policy debates since March when the lockdowns began until lately when in Puerto Princesa City, the DILG order was re-imposed. The city government grudgingly followed, banning tricycles from the two main highways within the city proper even as the city mayor fired off renewed appeals for its deferment in view of ongoing efforts to normalize the economy devastated by the lockdowns.
It does not seem likely that the DILG will change its tune on the matter, if only because it seemed to have done so without even considering the impacts of its decision and the possible alternative policy directions. Without due diligence, it has not made itself aware of the trade-offs between a cut-and-dried transport policy and implementing it at a time of uncertainty. Note for instance that displacing single-ride tricycles in places like Puerto Princesa would compel commuters to crowd into its multi-cabs and encourage congestions and thereby additional health risks by compromising physical distancing.
Such a situation is like to happen where there is little or no preparation in place before compliance, and the DILG doesn’t seem to mind. Its de-kahon approach to policy in dealing with tricycles on national highways has been typical of its penchant for the inane, the same mindset that emboldened it to impose on the suffering public the concept of the motorcycle barrier not too long ago.
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