Public Inconvenienced

Posted on 2018/02/26

In a 2017 travel magazine survey, Manila was ranked the “worst city” to travel in Southeast Asia due largely to its horrendous traffic. This would not come a surprise to the more than 18 million residents in the metropolis who wade through major thoroughfares daily to face the vexing traffic gridlock. The current mass transport system in Greater Manila Area (GMA) is operated by Metro Rail System (MRT-3) and Metro Light Railway Transit System (LRT); both never come close to the standards of efficient service. If news reports were any guide, not a single day goes by with nary a grumble from riding public of the country’s graft-ridden and sclerotic transit system. That should have left taxicabs the alternate form of transportation, albeit expensive, for the white-collar workers who want to get to the office on time and neat. Wait, who would want to ride taxicabs these days?

Horrible stories of passengers with taxicab drivers are aplenty: drivers are not timid asking additional fare or tip even before passengers are ensconced in the seat not least during peak hours and holidays when they are in dire need to get home; notorious for driving recklessly as if no one else is on the road; drivers routinely decline passengers with longer destination; drivers contract fares instead of the required meter receipt with passengers mostly foreigners or Filipinos coming from abroad. If these are not enough to move the callousness of public’s sensitivities, what about other egregious acts of taxicab drivers that landed in the headlines of national dailies: drugged and sexually assaulted women passengers; passengers divested of personal belongings and other valuable items or were killed when things went awry. Who would miss a facebook post that went viral in June 2014 with two taxicabs ramming into each other like bump cars over passenger preference?

Regulated by an outdated law – the Public Service Act of 1936, as amended – transportation service as well the rest of major government services which include; water, electricity, and telecommunications, is in urgent need of overhaul more than a face-lift. Calls for reforms to overhaul transportation service began since martial law and have not gone beyond stitching up a mish mash of administrative policies and administrative rules just to keep pace with membership requirements of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), and the global trade. In its current formulation, PSA 1936 defines “service” as public utility, a legal concept that restricts non-Filipino entrepreneurs to operate a public utility following a constitutional injunction. As a consequence of foreign equity restriction, the current transportation service has entrenched oligopoly, stunted the growth of competition, and perpetuated the “padrino” system.

Enter Uber, Grab, and other ride-hailing apps into the country’s transportation service. For most passengers, this internet-based contractual service offers a counterweight to taxicab industry that is plagued by rascals; however, the government offers a different perspective. The government opposition to internet-based services rests heavily on its sovereign prerogative to award franchise to any public service operator as well impose taxes on any income-generating activity. The absence of appropriate regulation on internet-based services makes it difficult for government to rein in the ride-hailing apps. Taxicab operators cry foul of the unjust competition since they have to invest in the physical acquisition of taxicabs, whereas internet-based services are banking solely on the ownership of intellectual property and digital platform through which private vehicle owners may register to initiate contract with passengers. Who would blame the public for using the ride-hailing apps, albeit expensive, when it is hassle-free in today’s chaotic environment of land transportation?

Passengers who continue to patronize taxicabs, either for lack of advanced mobile phone or resistant to technology, have legal course of action against abuses. Aggrieved person may invoke Section 19, Chapter III of PSA 1936 against erring taxicab drivers and operators who “provide or maintain any service that is unsafe, improper, or inadequate or withhold or refuse any service.” The main challenge, though, like any of the country’s laws, is its enforcement. A victim has to file a verified complaint before a hearing officer of Land Transportation and Regulatory Board (LTRB); a notarial fee is required for verification of document. Once a complaint is filed, victim has to appear before a hearing officer. If respondent is absent for lack of notice or interest to contest a complaint, another hearing is likely to be scheduled in compliance with the due process requirements. How many victim-passengers would want to pursue this seemingly burdensome if not time-consuming civic duty? Again, due to traffic snarl in most streets in GMA, one has to take a day off just to attend a case.

Already hobbled by the lack or absence of enforcement of regulatory policies and criminal statutes, most government services, including transportation, are also suffering from the crippling effects of Filipino culture. In his book, “Why we are poor,” Filipino national artist F. Sionil Jose has captured and discussed at length some enduring attitudinal values of Filipinos that have impacted the country’s march to progress. Regardless of occupation or vocation, many a great number of Filipinos do not have as much commitment and devotion to their work. A cursory look at some offices in this country, local or international, reveals that the first thing employees do when they arrive at the office is to engage in jeering exchanges and rumormongering as if all the mundane discussions at home, in the neighborhood or in the social media are insufficient to strengthen social cohesion. The taxicab drivers are more brazen. Instead of providing quality service to the public as required in their franchise, taxi cab drivers flout the law and blame the passengers and the public for their station in life. In their myopic world, taxicab drivers believe that the riding public owe them a great deal of favors the moment taxicab is contracted for transportation. To entice more tourists to visit Manila, it is not too much and cumbersome for the millions of Filipinos in this mega metropolis to simply follow the law and jettison some local norms that have no place in the modern society.


Is an Non-Government Organization Catering Youth Services


Liceo Legal Aid Center (LiLAC) doing business under the name and style of Center for Alternative Lawyering of Liceo is the legal aid center of Liceo de Cagayan University, a privately owned university based in Cagayan de oro City. The group is composed of law students, alumni of the College of Law of the University, and lawyers who are passionate in the practice of alternative lawyering. LiLAC is guided by its vision of a holistic formation of law students committed to the transformation of society by promoting justice, empowerment, unity and peace, through helping the marginalized sector of the depressed areas here in Mindanao, in the Philippines and in the world. While the group was registered only this year with the Securities and Exchange Commission, it has been providing services to marginalized communities in partnership with NGOs for more than 8 years now. LiLAC has more than 50 members, 15 of whom are taking the active role of running the groups activities.

twitter: twitter.com/liceolegalaid
facebook: fb.com/liceolegalaidrn


The Mindanao State University Legal Aid Clinic or Mindanao SULAC for brevity, is the Legal Aid Clinic of Mindanao State University College of law. It is the first and currently the only one of its kind to be established in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM). It strives to cater the legal needs of the underprivileged and/or indigent clients of the Region and to help promote the proper administration of justice as a key to lasting peace in the region and in the country as a whole.

Office Address: 1F MSU College of Law Bldg.,
MSU Main Campus, Marawi City 9700 Philippines
Contact details:
Email: mindanaosulac@gmail.com
Mobile No.: (+63) 907 336 7762



The Notre Dame university is a Catholic Institution in Cotabato City run by the Oblates of Mary Immaculate and member of the Notre Dame Educational Association Philippines.The Notre Dame University Legal Aid Center started sometime in 2009. Its members are the officially enrolled students of NDU-College of Law.

The following are the official pages and e-mail address of the group:
FB: fb.com/ndulac
twitter: twitter.com/ndulac
Instagram: instagram.com/ndulac
email: ndulac@gmail.com


The Palawan Cradle of Rights is a unified composition of law students from Palawan State university school of Law, established last August 26, 2013 after the culminating activity of the Basic Orientation Seminar by the US Embassy in partnership with the MYVC.

Through our linkages and with the help of the different Government and Non-government organizations we aim to provide free access to people who need legal assistance.


The University of Mindanao Legal Aid Network (ULAN) is a non-stock, non-profit, and service institution of the University of Mindanao. As a service institution, it provides legal assistance, advocates human rights and social justice, and facilitates the formation of law students for alternative lawyering. It consists of law students and alumni of the College of Legal Education of the University of Mindanao committed to provide an adequate and greater access to justice of the community through its programs.


The CENTRO ADVOCACIA LEGAL is organized exclusively for charitable, socio-cultural and educational purposes, more specifically to serve the needs of the marginalized communities specifically children and youth and the minorities in Zamboanga City through Legal Aid Assistance and Human Rights Based Advocacies.