MANILA, Philippines — It was 2019 when the House of Representatives passed a bill to legalize motorcycle taxis, but the Senate bill, which was needed for the proposed legislation to become law, has stalled.
As the House, with 181 votes, passed House Bill (HB) No. 8959 at third and final reading, the Motorcycle Taxi Act was within reach. But the 17th Congress ended on June 4, 2019 without a law.
This is why new bills – HB No. 10571 and Senate Bill (SB) No. 1341 – were introduced in the 18th Congress to seek the legalization of motorcycle taxis as a mode of public transportation. .
A law is needed since Republic Act No. 4136—or the Land Transportation and Traffic Code—limits public transportation to four-wheeled vehicles.
Samar Rep. Edgar Sarmiento, chairman of the House Transportation Committee, and Senator Grace Poe, chair of the Senate Utilities Committee, had expressed hope that the legislation would finally become law.
Sarmiento, who said “we’ve already done our homework,” sent a letter to Poe on Feb. 14 asking for his office’s help in immediately passing SB No. 1341, the senatorial counterpart to HB No. ° 10571.
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It was January 31 when the House of Representatives, with 189 votes, passed HB No. 10571 at third and final reading. Sarmiento told INQUIRER.net that the switch took two years because “we didn’t want to make any mistakes”.
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Poe responded Tuesday, March 22, saying that given the support SB #1341 garnered during his 2020 sponsorship, “we can reasonably expect a quick pass.”
She told INQUIRER.net that she was committed to advancing the bill for consideration by the Senate once the session resumes on May 23. Two Senate committees have already approved the bill on February 13, 2020.
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The session will end on June 3. This indicates that the Senate should quickly pass SB No. 1341. As Sarmiento said, he calls for the bill to be heard in the Senate and hopefully signed into law by President Rodrigo Duterte by June 30. Duterte’s last day in office.
Before a bill becomes law, law firms Nicolas and De Vega said, legislation goes through a process in both the House of Representatives and the Senate.
The Senate website explained that the procedures for introducing legislation and passing it through committees are similar to those in the House of Representatives.
This is how a bill becomes law:
- When legislation originates in the House of Representatives, the Member or the Bill Drafting Division of the Office of Reference and Research prepares and drafts the bill at the request of the Member.
When it is presented to the Senate, the Member must file it with the Office of the Secretary.
- Once the legislation has been filed, it will be assigned a number. The House Secretary or the Senate Secretary will read the title and number.
The President or the President of the Senate refers the bill to the competent committees. For example, bills to legalize motorcycle taxis have been referred to the Transportation and Utilities Committees.
- The committee to which the bill has been referred is evaluating it to see if it should hold public hearings. If necessary, the date will be fixed and invitations will be sent to resource persons.
If the committee concludes that it is not necessary to hold public hearings, the bill will be immediately considered for discussion in committee.
After the committee has completed public hearings or committee discussions, the presentation of amendments, the consolidation of bills, or the proposal of a replacement bill takes place. The committee report will be prepared.
The committee will then approve the report and formally forward it to the Office of Plenary Affairs.
- A committee report outlines the essence and scope of the bill, explains any committee amendments, identifies proposed changes to existing legislation, and other relevant documents.
The commission report is registered and numbered by the Invoice and Index Service. It is included in the order of business and referred to the Rules Committee, which will schedule the bill for consideration at second reading.
The Secretary General or Secretary then reads out the number, title and text of the bill and the following happens:
- a. Sponsorship period and debate
- b. Change period
- vs. Voting which may be by voice; counting by cashiers; division of the House; or nominal vote
- Amendments, if any, are inserted and printed copies of the bill are reproduced for third reading.
The secretary general or secretary only reads the number and title of the bill. A roll-call or roll-call vote is called and a legislator, if they wish, is given three minutes to explain their vote. No amendments to the bill are permitted at this stage.
The bill is considered passed at third reading when there is an affirmative vote by a majority of the members of the House of Representatives or the Senate present. If the invoice is refused, the invoice is sent to the Archives.
Generally, the three readings must be done on different days and the printed copies of the bill in its final form must be distributed 3 days before the vote.
However, there is an exception – when the president certifies the necessity of the immediate enactment of the bill to respond to crises, such as a public calamity or emergency.
- The approved bill is sent to the Senate or the House of Representatives for approval.
A transmitted bill generally goes to committee, unless a bill on the same subject has already been flagged by the competent committee and placed on the calendar.
- The bill follows the same legislative process in the Senate and the House of Representatives.
- A conference committee is constituted and is composed of members of the House of Representatives and the Senate to settle, conciliate or settle disputes or disagreements on any provision of the bill.
The conference committee will prepare a report that will be signed by all speakers and the chair. The report of the conference committee is subject to review/approval by both chambers. No amendments are allowed.
- Copies of the bill, signed by the President of the Senate and the President of the House of Representatives and certified by the Secretary and the Secretary General, will be forwarded to the President.
- If the legislation is signed by the President, it is given an “RA” number and passed to the House of Representatives or the Senate, depending on where it originated.
If the President decides to veto the bill, the bill, together with a message indicating the reason for the veto, is transmitted to the House of Representatives or the Senate, depending on its origin.
- If signed, the bill is reproduced and copies are sent to the Office of the Official Gazette for publication and distribution to implementing agencies.
In the event of a veto, the message is included in the order of business. If Congress decides to override the veto, the House and Senate will separately reconsider the vetoed bill or items in the bill.
If the bill or its vetoed articles pass by a two-thirds vote of the members of the House of Representatives and the Senate, the bill or articles will become law.
The work of the Senate
It was in 2020 when 16 senators signed the committee’s report on the SB. No. 1341. This indicated that the bill, which will amend the Land Transport and Traffic Code, will be discussed in plenary session.
The report was signed by Poe, Senators Francis Tolentino, Imee Marcos, Panfilo Lacson, Ramon “Bong” Revilla Jr., Manny Pacquiao, Ronald “Bato” Dela Rosa and Christopher “Bong” Go.
Other senators who signed the committee’s report were Nancy Binay, Cynthia Villar, Joel Villanueva, Francis Pangilinan, Risa Hontiveros, Ralph Recto, Franklin Drilon and Juan Miguel Zubiri.
Poe then said it was high time the government recognized the growing demand for motorcycle taxis or motorbikes for rent, especially with the increasing traffic congestion in the Philippines.
“It’s already 2020. It’s time we harnessed the power of technology to help us solve mobility challenges. In terms of numbers alone, shared motorcycles are an untapped resource that we should take advantage of,” she said.
The House of Representatives took six days, from January 25, the day the bill passed its second reading, to January 31, the day the bill passed its third and final reading.
Poe, who pledged to advance the bill for consideration by the Senate on May 23, said his committee needed to “reconcile the versions of the two chambers because they are radically different bills.”
Sarmiento said he hopes it will be considered by the Senate as soon as possible. “If ever there are concerns, we could opt for a bicameral conference committee,” he said.
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