MANILA — The Chairman of the House Committee on Transportation has prescribed four ways on how the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) can intensify and consolidate its efforts against various taxi-related crimes and violations, which include the mandatory disabling by taxi operators or drivers of child-lock systems on all taxi-units.
Rep. Cesar V. Sarmiento (Lone District, Catanduanes) proposed these measures as cases of robbery, rape, physical injuries, among others, involving taxi drivers, with their cohorts, as offenders have been on the rise recently.
“Public order and safety strongly demand that a holistic strategy, not a case-to-case nor a piece-meal approach, be done if we are to put an end to the taxi-related crimes and violations that have haunted our people,” said Sarmiento.
The lawmaker said despite the rules and regulations promulgated and enforced, the franchise violations investigated and the public information drives conducted so far by the LTFRB, cases of taxi-related crimes and violations have yet to be fully addressed by the agency.
He cited that on December 10, 2008, the LTFRB issued Memorandum Circular No. 2008-035 for the removal of power door locks and windows system, but not the disabling of the child-lock systems of taxis.
This is lamentable according to Sarmiento because in the furtherance of their criminal activities, taxi drivers activate the available child-lock mechanism on taxi units, or the feature that disables the opening of the rear doors of the cab from the interior, to prevent the escape of their intended victims, proving the same to be inimical to the life and security of the taxi passengers.
“The foregoing taxi-related crimes and the existence of serious security lapses such as the available child-lock system and lack of proper driver IDs are on top of the countless complaints involving discourteous and reckless taxi drivers, defective or tampered meters, drivers who contract passengers or refuse to convey them, and poor maintenance of their taxi units to name a few,” said Sarmiento.
Sarmiento said the prevailing situation put to bad light the reliability of the country’s public land transportation, hampering various societal and economic activities and forcing the riding public to patronize modes of transportation other than the conventional taxi, including online transportation services which may not be sanctioned by law.
Recently, Sarmiento said the LTFRB issued Memorandum Circular No. 2014-020, requiring all taxi operators in Metro Manila to submit a list of their authorized drivers on or before January 15, 2015 and every 15th and 30th of the month thereafter, to issue driver IDs and to secure clearance from the LTFRB before hiring a new taxi driver.
Sarmiento, through House Resolution 1771, said the LTFRB, in accordance with the powers and duties vested in it by law, should intensify its efforts against taxi-related crimes and violations by adopting the following measures, among others:
1. Consolidate its regulations, programs and activities with that of the other government enforcement agencies, including but not limited to, public awareness and information drives, timely response to and immediate resolution of complaints filed by commuters, inventory and random inspections of taxi units and further verification of documents submitted by operators;
2. Immediately impose the mandatory disabling by all taxi operators/drivers of child-lock systems on all taxi units;
3. Put primary emphasis in enforcing and monitoring the compliance of taxi operators or drivers on rules and regulations designed to protect taxi passengers; and
4. Regular coordination of the various government agencies such as the Department of Transportation and Communications (DOTC), the Land Transportation Office (LTO), the Philippine National Police (PNP) and the Highway Patrol Group (HPG) which may contribute in the prevention of taxi-related crimes.