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By: Eleanor Valeros | Published Friday, June 5, 2020
All congressmen of the seven districts of Cebu Province expressed their support to Gov. Gwen Garcia and the Provincial Board on the issuance of Executive Order 19 which allows one passenger on private vehicles. (Junjie Mendoza)

Congressmen and members of the Cebu Provincial Board are crossing political boundaries to support Governor Gwendolyn Garcia’s decision to allow one passenger on private motorcycles. 

The congressmen of Cebu’s seven districts expressed in a manifesto their strong support to Garcia and the Provincial Board of the Province of Cebu in allowing back riders of private motorcycles.

“Wa mi magkuyog niadtong milabay nga piliay. Apan karon nga panahon sa krisis, unsay nakita ninyo dinhi sa Probinsya sa Sugbo, sa Cebu Provincial Government, nagtinabangay tanan. We crossed political boundaries. Ang atong Provincial Board members lakip na gani ang atong Vice Governor misuportar sa tanan nato nga lakang kay sayud sila in this time of crisis kinahanglan mag-unite ang tanan. Mao sad ni karon niining manifesto,” Garcia said.

First district Rep. Eduardo R. Gullas Sr., 2nd district Rep. Wilfredo S. Caminero, 3rd district Rep. Pablo John F. Garcia, 4th district Rep. Janice Z. Salimbangon, 5th district Rep. Vincent Franco D. Frasco, 6th district Rep. Emmarie M. Ouano-Dizon, and 7th district Rep. Peter John D. Calderon expressed that “as representatives of the people of our districts, we are keenly aware of our constituents’ urgent need for ready access to transportation as the Province of Cebu transitions to General Community Quarantine (GCQ), and, hopefully, soon back to normalcy.”

“As our constituents crawl back from a long and difficult hiatus during the Enhanced Community Quarantine (ECQ), mobility is absolutely essential, especially as they seek to rebuild lives put on hold and livelihoods they were forced to abandon in the interest of public health,” the manifesto read.

“Even under relaxed public transportation rules under GCQ, however, a large chunk of our population remains unserved or underserved, simply because they do not have access to MRTs (Metro Rail Transit), buses, jeepneys, taxis, TNVS (Transport Network Vehicle Service), public shuttles, and, even, in some areas, tricycles,” the congressmen said in the document.

“For a significant proportion of our constituencies, private, family-owned motorcycles – because they are the cheapest and easiest to acquire – remain the only viable means of transport as they go about their daily lives. And invariably, family members share rides, and depend on other family members who can drive to take them to their jobs,” they added.

The Land Transportation Office (LTO) in Memorandum Circular No. 2020-2185 prohibited riding private motorcycles in tandem, even for family members. 

The congressmen said that this is in flagrant violation of Republic Act No. 4136 or the Land Transportation and Traffic Code which does not prohibit the use of private motorcycles to transport passengers “provided the passenger is related within the fourth civil degree of consanguinity or affinity, and provided, further, that no fee is charged.”

“As representatives of the people, we cannot play deaf to our constituents’ earnest and desperate plea to lift this unfair, anti-poor and insensitive “no back rider” policy, as it disproportionately impacts the poor over the rich who can afford other means of transportation,” the manifesto further read. 

As lawmakers, the seven congressmen feel that an administrative agency’s rule prohibiting what the law allows is tantamount to amending the law, and, therefore, patently ultra vires, as “the stream cannot rise higher than its source.”

Ultra vires is a Latin phrase meaning “beyond the powers,” an act which requires legal authority but is done without it.

“Tugtan nato ang back riding in conformity with RA 4136. A memorandum circular cannot supersede a national law. Dili nga mas gamhanan ang usa ka circular kaysa balaud. Amyendahon usa nato ang balaud,” Garcia accentuated.

The seven legislators added that they “welcome with gratitude and admiration the move of Governor Garcia and the Provincial Board of Cebu to allow and regulate passengers in private motorcycles, as allowed by law, as it grants relief to their overburdened constituents, especially the poor and the underprivileged.”

“We urge transportation officials in the province and the region to fully cooperate with and assist the Province of Cebu as they implement this provincial ordinance. We ask nothing more and nothing less than this. Listen to your people, and follow the law,” the manifesto added.

Meanwhile, 7th district Rep. Calderon wrote a separate letter to the governor expressing his support.

“I join the people of the 7th district of Cebu in commending Governor Gwen Garcia for issuing EO 19 which would essentially allow our residents to use their motorcycles to transport a passenger or back rider,” Calderon said.

“Even before Covid-19, I personally witnessed the difficulty the people, specially those living in the mountain barangays, encounter when transporting goods or family members using motorcycles as the only mode of transport,” he added.

“With the no back rider policy many residents have no choice but to walk for kilometers at the mercy of the elements and increasing their vulnerability to hazards and sickness,” the congressman shared.

“The issuance of the said Executive Order echoed the clamor of local executives and the marginalized people of Cebu to allow back riders to ease their burden in these trying times. This will improve mobility and provide convenience specially in times of emergency and enable them to restart their livelihood and alleviate economic difficulties this pandemic has brought upon them,” he said.

“Again, we express our utmost support for this Executive Order and for Gov Gwen Garcia in taking this bold step on behalf of our people,” Calderon expressed. (Eleanor Valeros)