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By: Eleanor Valeros | Published Thursday, June 4, 2020
The Cebu Provincial Government will allow back riders as long as only one passenger will be carried per trip and no fee is charged. Gov. Gwen Garcia will be issuing an executive order for this after the Provincial Board approves the ordinance on the matter. (Lito Tecson)

Motorcycles in Cebu Province will be allowed to transport one passenger after the Provincial Board approves an ordinance on the matter on Friday, June 5.

Governor Gwendolyn Garcia confirmed that motorcycles within the Province of Cebu may transport passengers or “back riders” provided they carry only one passenger per trip, and that no fee is charged.

Section 1 of Executive Order No. 19 she issued for the purpose states that both driver and passenger must wear helmets approved by the Department of Trade and Industry under Republic Act No. 10054 “mandating all motorcycle riders to wear standard protective motorcycle helmets while driving and providing penalties thereof.”

Both driver and passenger must wear closed shoes, and that applicable mandatory health standards shall also be observed by both the driver and the passenger.

“Kinahanglan pa ni ang EO i-adopt sa Provincial Board by way of a Provincial Ordinance. The moment aprubahan i-print, pirmahan nako nga effective na na ang maong ordinansa. Maong paghuwat mo kay naa pa ta’y sundon nga mga procedure,” Garcia addressed Cebu Province through a livestream report.

It was found out that Republic Act No. 4136, otherwise known as the Land Transportation and Traffic Code, does not prohibit the use of private motorcycles to transport passengers provided that the passenger is a relative by consanguinity or affinity within the fourth civil degree to the owner and shall not be used to solicit, accept or be used to transport passengers or freight for pay.

A vehicle frequently used to carry freight not belonging to the registered owner, or passengers not related by consanguinity or affinity within the fourth civil degree to such owner, shall be conclusively presumed to be “for hire,” according to Section 7 of the EO.

Garcia, in her EO, pointed out that the proposition of RA 4136 was confirmed by no less than the Supreme Court of the Philippines in the landmark case of “The Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board and the Department of Transportation vs. Hon. Carlos A. Valenzuela, presiding judge of the Regional Trial Court of Mandaluyong City, and DBOYC, Inc.” dated March 11, 2019 otherwise known as the “Angkas Case” where it tacitly stated that a motorcycle owner may ferry a passenger as long as no fee is charged.

The EO also underscored that the legal principle of nulla poena sine lege – there shall be no penalty without a law – finds application on the plight of the thousands of motorcycle-riding Cebuanos as there is no law that expressly prohibits the back riding of passengers on motorcycles.

The “no back rider” policy reiterated under Land Transportation Office Memorandum Circular No. 2020-2185 is unhinged for, being a mere regulation that implements and enforces an existing law, it cannot go beyond the parameters of existing legal frameworks pursuant to the Supreme Court cases of “China Banking Corporation vs. Home Development Mutual Fund dated May 19, 1999 and The People of the Philippines vs. Hon. Maximo A. Macaren dated October 18, 1977.”

Further, the EO invokes Republic Act No. 7160, otherwise known as the Local Government Code of 1991, which states that provinces shall exercise powers necessary, appropriate, or incidental for its efficient and effective governance and those which are essential to the promotion of general welfare, health, and safety, including the provisions of services to control communicable diseases.

Under Section 465 of the same Code, the Provincial Governor shall carry out such emergency measures as may be necessary during and in the aftermath of man-made and natural disasters and calamities.

Based on data from the Philippine Statistics Authority, the Province of Cebu has an estimated population of 5,085,207 for 2020 where a great percentage of this depend on motorcycles for their travel to work, secure basic necessities, and other essential goods during the community quarantine.

With the lifting of more restrictions where more businesses are allowed to operate under General Community Quarantine (GCQ), the “no back rider” policy is “no longer cogent for want of adequate public transportation” especially for persons living mountain barangays and far-flung areas as well as for those living in the same household who are related by consanguinity or affinity within the fourth civil degree to the owner of the motorcycle. (Eleanor Valeros)