CABANATUAN CITY, Nueva Ecija -- Tricycle drivers and operators may soon enjoy social insurance programs and health benefits provided by the government once a bill authored by Sen. Grace Poe is enacted into law.
Poe, chair of the Senate public services committee, said Congress still has time to approve the measure when it resumes session after the May elections.
Congress is currently on recess.
“For this purpose, sisikapin nating maipasa ito bago matapos ang 17th Congress kasi may panahon pa naman kami (we will try to pass it before the end of the 17th Congress because we still have time),” Poe said after her panel approved in principle Senate Bill 1751, or the proposed Magna Carta for Tricycle Drivers and Operators that she also authored.
Poe’s panel held a hearing on the bill on Friday in this city dubbed the “Tricycle Capital of the Philippines.”
The bill was pushed as counterpart of the measure introduced at the House of Representatives by Nueva Ecija third Dist. Rep. Rosanna Vergara.
Vergara, who joined with the senators and other stakeholders during the hearing, said she seeks protection to both tricycle drivers and operators and the commuters.
Aside from social insurance, she said her proposal also seeks stiffer penalties for government officials and law enforcers who would prey on drivers.
The local government units, she added, should come up with a roadmap for trike lanes too.
Meanwhile, under Senate bill, state-run firms Social Security System and the Philippine Health Insurance Corp. will provide mandatory coverage to tricycle drivers and operators to enable them to access social security and health care benefits.
The proposed legislation also mandates local governments to establish a simplified registration process and a one-stop shop that will handle all tricycle transactions for them to operate.
The bill provides tricycle maintenance programs, vocational education on automotive mechanics to widen drivers’ skills, and alternative livelihood and skills-training programs for the sector.
It also prohibits impounding of tricycle on minor traffic violations.
“Ang tricycle drivers at operators ay inaasahang magiging mas maingat at maalam sa pagmamaneho at pagpapasada sapagkat magkakaroon ng orientation patungkol sa traffic management and rules (The tricycle drivers and operators are expected to be more careful and knowledgeable on driving because there will be orientation on traffic management and rules),” Poe said.
Sen. Nancy Binay, who also attended the public hearing, said stakeholders should institute “protective measures to minimize the dangers to drivers and passengers”.
A counterpart measure, House Bill 9073 authored by Nueva Ecija Rep. Rosanna “Ria” Vergara (3rd district), had been approved on second reading.
Vergara said if the bill hurdles Congress, it will be her first measure that could become a law.
“All tricycle drivers not only in Cabanatuan but in the entire country will greatly benefit,” she said.
Poe also reminded drivers and operators that the safety of passengers is paramount.
“Nais po nating ipaalala sa lahat, basta po tungkol sa transportasyon, kaligtasan ng mga pasahero ang ating number one priority, kailangan po nating magtulungan upang makamit ito (We want to remind all that in regards to transportation, safety of the passengers should be our no. 1 priority. We should help each other to attain it),” she added. (PNA)