Here in the Philippines, commuting is one of the most common things Filipino workers experience. It’s convenient and it’s cheaper compared to bringing a car or using ride-hailing services. As of today, Filipinos enjoy a wide variety of choices of commuting from jeepneys, tricycles, UV Express vans, to trains, and buses.
Students in the country can enjoy a whole and effective 20 percent discount after President Rodrigo Duterte signed into law the Republic Act (R.A.) 11314 or also known as the Student Fare Discount.
After this got signed into law, the House of Representatives published and filed their version of a bill that would emphasize and distinguish the rights and privileges of the commuters in the Philippines.
Magna Carta for Commuters Act
Since commuting is done by most, if not all Filipinos, the government seeks to give aid to commuters in both rural and urban areas.
House Bill 3125 or more known as the Magna Carta for Commuters, is a bill that would help improve and enhance the mobility of commuters in all of the country.
The House Bill 3125 or “An Act Creating a Magna Carta for Commuters” was submitted and filed to the House and was authored by Quezon City 3rd District Rep. Allan Benedict Reyes together with transport advocacy group, AltMobility.
What is the benefit of the Magna Carta for Commuters Act?
If you’ve ever done or experienced commuting in the Philippines, you know how difficult and complicated it is. With this bill, the Philippine government just needs signing of it to ensure safe, convenient, and affordable commuting is done in the country.
Reyes made a mention that according to data they were able to gather from the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA), an average death count of 32 people happens on a daily basis because of road accidents and mishaps.
In an explanatory note, Reyes told that this bill aims to “improve mobility propels economic growth and inequality.”
He added that insufficient connectivity is and will be an issue in the future if it does not get addressed.
The lack of proper connectivity is therefore more than an issue of congestion or inaccessibility. It limits opportunities and stunts growth, especially for those who are already marginalized and disadvantaged.”
Senate Bill No. 775
Reyes submitted and filed the bill a few days after Senator Francis “Kiko” Pangilinan filed Senate Bill No. 775 or “An Act Providing for a Magna Carta for Dignified Commuting.”
Senator Pangilinan filed this Bill back on the 24th of July 2019 with the hopes of allowing commuters utmost convenience in commuting. In Senate Bill No. 775, the bill, overall, lists down the basic rights commuters ought to have, these are: Mobility Infrastructure, Clean Air, Adequate and Efficient Transportation Services, and Decision-Making Participation.
The Senate Bill that Senator Pangilinan submitted also discusses the mobility that commuters need to have. He said that transport hours should never be limited and waiting time (for buses, for instance) must be cut short to just ten (10) minutes.
Provisions of the Magna Carta for Commuters bill
One of the main topics as regards this bill is the establishment and creation of the Office of Commuter Affairs under the Department of Transportation.
In addition to that, the bill also urges the Philippine government to provide prioritization in public transportation. This can be done by giving a network of sidewalks and bicycle lanes through cities and municipalities.
Network of sidewalks and roads
In the bill, it was mentioned that municipalities and towns should have an “interconnected and integrated network” of roads, sidewalks and bicycle lanes for the use of commuters.
Furthermore, the bill expands to ordering transport stations to also be available within a distance of 500 meters from any residence or activity center. Stations, on the other hand, must be located in 300-meter intervals from public-stricken locations.
The Philippine government must also assure all commuters safe, convenient and affordable public transport services.
A goal to promote non-motorized transportation is also discussed in the bill. Their approach to promote this is by providing bicycle racks that will be able to accommodate at least ten (10) percent of the “expected users” of any building.
Do these apply to expressways too?
Although the bill is clear with its provisions, expressways aren’t included in the said “networks.” The same goes with toll roads.
But, all networks of walkways, pedestrian lanes, and safe lanes should have dedicated pedestrian walking paths and roads of at least 2.5 meters in each direction possible.
Senator “Kiko” Pangilinan said in a note that commuters who utilize public transportation in the country, make up around 70% of the overall trips in the Metro; but only have 20% of road space. This means that on a daily basis, commuters consume more than half of the total population in commuting while they’re only allotted 20 percent of the space which makes it unfair for commuters.
Reyes emphasizes on the fact that commuting has been treated as a form of hassle in our country even though commuters can choose from a wide variety of options in commuting.
He said that the issue in commuting mobility has been an issue before; and that this issue affects the most vulnerable of the demographics of the population; and that the State needs to address this now.
Unfortunately, Filipinos have long suffered mobility issues. This disproportionately affects the most vulnerable in the country: the young and the elderly, the women, the poor, the working class and the persons with disabilities who mostly rely on public transportation and active transport in every part of the country.”
Fines if caught violating the Act
Should the bill gets signed into law, violators can face fines and charges depending on the intensity.
In the bill, it was mentioned that any person, business, or government agency who will be caught violating the provisions of the act will be fined anywhere from P200,000 to P500,000 respectively.
No details on what the fines will be were out yet so let us sit tight and wait for the official publishing; should, of course, the bill transmits into law.
What do you think about the Bills filed by Rep. Reyes and Senator Francis “Kiko” Pangilinan? Would this impose huge positive changes to the lives of commuters? Can this help in the assurance of safety and convenience in commuting?