Valenzuela City Congressman Win Gatchalian is calling for the swift passage of House Bill No. 3681, to be known as the “Bill of Rights of Taxi Passengers”, after a female passenger exposed the rudeness of a taxi driver who threatened to punch her after she refused to pay an additional fare above the metered-fare.
Taxi passenger Joanna Garcia shared on Tuesday a 45-second video on her Facebook account how a taxi driver argued with her to pay an additional fare. Garcia said she rode a taxi, with plate number UWB 666, going to the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA) when the driver asked her to pay P250 but Garcia insisted to use the meter.
When they arrived at POEA, Garcia said she handed P200 pesos expecting to get a P40 change since the meter read P140 only. But the taxi driver started shouting invectives to Garcia, refusing to give back change.
In the video, the taxi driver later identified as Roger Catipay of AFG Taxi with plate number UWB 666 could be seen shouting at Garcia telling her to get off from the taxi. Garcia said that when the taxi driver saw her taking a video of him, he hit her, which prompted Garcia to alight from the taxi.
“When I watched Garcia’s video in her Facebook Account, I was angered because passengers,especially women, are most prone to abusive taxi drivers and this could have been prevented if there is already a law on the rights of taxi passengers,” said Gatchalian, a senatorial candidate of the Nationalist Peoples Coalition (NPC).
Gatchalian pointed out that the countless complaints he received from his constituents and friends prompted him to file the “Bill of Rights of Taxi Passengers” and push for its approval in Congress.
Under Gatchalian’s bill, violating taxi drivers will be liable with their operators and will face a fine of at P500 to 2,000 for the first offense; P1,000 to 5,000 for the second, and; a minimum of P3,000 up to P10,000 as well as one-week suspension of the driver’s license and/or certificate of public convenience for the third and subsequent offenses.
Gatchalian said the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) can actually enforce the duties and obligations of taxi drivers and operators enumerated in H.B. 3681 if the agency really wants to protect taxi passengers from abusive drivers.
“In the absence of a law, the LTFRB can exercise its authority over taxi drivers by making it mandatory for them to prominently display their ID cards inside the cab so passengers would immediately know the identity of abusive drivers,” said Gatchalian.
Aside from verbal abuse and grave threats as what Garcia experience, Gatchalian pointed out that female taxi passengers are also vulnerable to robbery and rape by their very own taxi drivers as shown in past incidents in Quezon City and Manila.
“Female taxi passengers are in a ‘Catch-22’ wherein they have a hard time getting a taxi ride especially during Christmas season. And when they do get a ride, the possibility of being robbed and worse, getting raped is there. It’s a damned-if-you-do-damned-if-you-don’t situation,” said Gatchalian, whose bill defines the rights of taxi passengers.
Gatchalian also urged LTFRB Chairman Winston Ginez to come out with stiffer penalties on taxi operators who fail to conduct the necessary background and security check on driver-applicants before they are given employment. (R. Burgos)