Last-minute attempts of city government officials to exempt Puerto Princesa from the tricycle ban policy have failed, paving the strict implementation of the order banning them from national highways starting February 1.
Councilor Elgin Damasco, chairman of the committee on transportation, in a video shared Friday to reporters confirmed that the request for an exemption in Puerto Princesa was rejected by the Department of Transportation (DOTr).
The DOTr rejected the appeal, pointing out that such a request would only open up subsequent petitions from other local government units (LGUs).
“Ginawa ko na po ang lahat ng aking makakaya. Kulang na lang lumuhod ako sa mga opisyal ng DOTr para bigyan tayo ng pagkakataon o ekstensiyon dito sa lungsod,m. Kaya lamang national law po ito, maging sila ay wala ding magagawa dahil batas iyan. Gusto ko lang ulit klaruhin na hindi ito batas ng local government, kundi batas ng national,” he explained.
Damasco said he personally met with DOTr officials in Manila and Pampanga last week hoping for an exemption to be given by citing certain provisions on the 40-kilometer per hour (kph) speed limit and the four-wheel 40 tonnes carrying capacity as loopholes for the law.
These provisions are imposed on national highways in Puerto Princesa under City Ordinance 962.
However, DOTr and the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) denied with finality the city’s request by making reference to the joint memorandum issued in 2017, which no longer provides for such exemption based on the speed limit and carrying capacity.
“For example sa national highway may eskwelahan, ang sinasabi ng ating batas kapag ikaw ay tumatakbo sa isang kalsada na mayroong eskwelahan, dapat 20 kilometers per hour lang ang speed limit. But still, it remains ‘yong dinadaanan mo national highway pa rin,” said DOTr ASec. Alberto Suansing.
Meanwhile, Republic Act (RA) No. 4136 or the Land Transportation and Traffic Code remains permissive on the three-wheel vehicles in the city and municipal roads.
The tricycle ban that is expected to be implemented on Saturday will include Rizal Avenue up to Abrea Road; Junction 1 up to Santol Road; Junction 3 from Adventist up to Abanico Road in Jesus is Lord (JIL); and may even include Malvar Road up to Rengel Center.
Rizaldo Rodriguez, the spokesperson of the Rotonda Multi-Purpose Cooperative (RMPC), pleaded for more time on January 25 during Palawan News’ Behind the News, pointing out that some 1,000 Rotonda tricycle operators will be adversely affected by the traffic scheme.
“Kami ay handang makipagtulungan, pero sana isipin naman nila kami. Hindi naman kami puwede sa kanto-kantong TODA kagaya sa San Manuel o San Pedro kasi meron silang sariling TODA. Kaming roving tricycles, saan kami mapupunta?” Rodriguez asked.
Lawyer Arnel Pedrosa, the city administrator, expressed sentiments on the “lack of social preparation”, but insisted that the national law takes precedence assuring the tricycle operators that the city is looking for “alternative routes” where they would still be allowed to transport.
“Kailangan ipatupad na ‘yan by February 1, pero hinihintay pa namin ang City Council na magpasa ng ordinansa when it comes to regulation kung saan sila puwede. Malinaw naman sa batas na puwede ang tricycle sa municipal at city roads,” Pedrosa said also during Behind the News.
The traffic scheme which will be implemented is still not clear since no city ordinance was filed as of press time.
Another public consultation is scheduled on Wednesday to clarify the questions which were not previously answered by Damasco.