The Negros Oriental Sangguniang Panlalawigan disapproved recently a Dumaguete City ordinance that aims to direct all tricycle drivers to become members of associations before they are allowed to convey passengers, on the ground that it will violate the constitutional right or freedom of an individual to join an association.
Members of the Sangguniang Panlungsod expressed dismay over the decision of the Provincial Board, and Vice Mayor Franklin Esmeña Jr. and Councilor Manuel Arbon requested the secretariat to ask for a reconsideration, or repeal of the action of the Board.
Councilors Lilani Ramon and Estanislao Alviola lamented the action of the Board, especially for not holding consultations with the tricycle drivers, stakeholders and the City Council before they decided to disapprove the ordinance and declare it null and void.
Ramon stressed that the intention of the ordinance is to ensure the safety of the riding public, considering that many teenagers, especially girls, are at risk of being sexually assaulted by drivers or extradors, many of whom are not from Dumaguete City, and could not be apprehended due to the absence of a system that will establish their identities and moral character.
She added that it would have been better if the Board checked on the police records of some malfeasance and even assaults perpetrated by erring and abusive drivers before it decided to disapprove the ordinance.
Councilor Agustin Miguel Perdices inquired if the Board is the proper authority to determine the constitutionality of any ordinance, considering that these questions are normally settled by the courts, particularly the Supreme Court, as the final arbiter of legal disputes.
Councilor Alan Gel Cordova rejected the assertion of the Board in invalidating the ordinance, saying that the mandate for tricycle drivers to become members of an association before they are allowed to practice their trade skill is consistent with the exercise of police power of the LGU to promote public safety.
He added that no one is forced to become tricycle driver but once he or she chooses to be one, that person can be compelled to join an association as part of regulation so the officers of the association can vouch for their character and integrity.
He said there are 3,000 tricycle drivers in the city, some of whom drive at night or are called extradors, and amid reports of abuses and other traffic-related offenses, the authorities have a hard time identifying and apprehending the bad drivers because many of them are not members of associations duly accredited by the city government. It was noted that the ordinance was passed upon the suggestion of the tricycle drivers themselves as a means to weed out the bad elements in their ranks.
The City Council expressed doubt whether the Board’s action was valid considering that it took the latter more than 30 days to act on the ordinance.
The ordinance was passed on November 14, 2018 and was submitted to the Board on November 16, 2018 after Mayor Felipe Antonio Remollo signed its approval.
But the Board began deliberation on January 14, 2019, or nearly two months after and finally disapproved it on February 6.
“By operation of law that requires the reviewing body like the Provincial Board to take action (approve or disapprove) on a pending ordinance within 30 days, the ordinance is already effective and enforceable,” Cordova said.*
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