An award-winning public servant has called on the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board or LTFRB to crack the whip on taxi operators, who fail to protect taxi passengers’ rights.
Valenzuela City Congressman Win Gatchalian said taxi operators have the responsibility to strictly check those who apply as drivers in their taxi lines following the recent spate of attacks against the rights of taxi passengers like robbery.
Gatchalian, former mayor of Valenzuela City from 2004 to 2013, specifically called on LTFRB Chairman Winston Ginez to come out with stiffer penalties on taxi operators who hire rude, discourteous, and erring taxi drivers, who abuse taxi passengers especially during Christmas rush.
The Nationalist People’s Coalition or NPC member expressed belief that the LTFRB should come out with a policy that will ensure the conduct the necessary background and security check on driver-applicants before they are given employment.
“The recent spate of robberies committed by taxi drivers on their passengers should be a cause for alarm for the LTFRB since it is the agency that issues franchise to taxis,” Gatchalian said.
“Operators should be diligent enough to conduct background checks on their drivers to prevent criminal elements from becoming driver-robbers,” he added.
Gatchalian, a vice chair of House Committee on Metro Manila Development, also warned abusive taxi drivers that their days are numbered once House Bill No. 3681, to be known as the “Bill of Rights of Taxi Passengers,” becomes a law.
Gatchalian is pushing for the swift passage of the measure, which seeks to impose fines and penalties on erring taxi drivers who are the subject of numerous complaints especially during Christmas season.
“We have seen countless videos and have heard sordid stories of cab drivers who are abusive, negligent, and prey on unsuspecting passengers. They pick passengers on their own terms, refuse carriage for some destinations, force you to pay an extra amount on top of the meter bill, are discourteous and trick most passengers on circuitous routes to earn extra money,” Gatchalian said.
“Most of the tourists who come to our country have fallen victims to these enterprising cab drivers,” he stated in his explanatory note.
Gatchalian, who represents Valenzuela City’s first district in the Lower Congress, 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.
“In order to address this problem and prevent any more untoward incidents of this nature to occur in the future, a passenger bill of rights is hereby proposed to protect the commuting public from abusive, itinerant and discourteous drivers and provide a sanction for the offenses they commit against the riding public,” said Gatchalian.
Under H.B. 3681, every cab passenger is entitled to the following rights:
- The right to a licensed driver who is properly dressed, courteous, and not under the influence of alcohol or drugs;
2. The right to ride in a clean, safe, and smoke-free taxi;
3. The right to be transported to their stated destination;
4. The right to view the metered fare and to request a receipt using a taxi meter calibrated and sealed by the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB);
5. The right to be given the exact amount of change, and;
6. The right to ride a substitute taxi or be aided to get a new one in case of engine trouble, in which payment for the flag-down taxi rate will be waived.
Taxi drivers or operators, on the other hand, are expected to perform the following duties and obligations:
Display his/her taxi driver’s license visibly to all passengers;
2. Indicate the taxi’s plate number, operator’s name, place of business, and contact number on the inside doors of the cab;
3. Display clearly the taxi passengers’ rights, the process of complaint-filing, and the contact details of the LTFRB;
4. Accept all trips regardless of length;
5. Avoid violating any law or traffic regulation;
6. Refrain from using a cellular phone while in transit;
7. Provide a clean, safe, smoke-free taxi;
8. Protect a passenger’s health or safety;
9. Refrain from soliciting or requiring passengers to pay more than the displayed meter fare, and;
10. Know the major routes and destinations.
Under the measure, ill-treated passengers should file a personal complaint against the driver and operator of the taxi with the LTFRB.
Violating taxi drivers will be liable with their operators and will face a fine of at P500-2,000 for the first offense; at least P1,000-5,000 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 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. (Monica Cantilero)