Orbos rides a habal-habal, gets reprimanded by DOTr boss Tugade
Transportation Undersecretary for roads Thomas “Tim” Orbos wanted to make light of his hectic morning schedule on Friday, narrating that he rode on the back of a motorbike— a practice known as habal-habal— to reach an agreement signing event in a Bonifacio Global City hotel.
The image of a ranking government officer going to a swanky venue in this manner drew laughter from audience members, comprised of government and private sector officials, and members of the media.
But unfortunately for Orbos, a general manager of the Metro Manila Development Authority, he faced a strong reprimand and a curse word from his irked boss, Transportation secretary Arthur Tugade, who said habal-habal was not allowed.
“I was really bothered, if not alarmed, by the statement of Usec. Tim Orbos na p… nag habal-habal siya,” Tugade said after Orbos gave his opening remarks during the signing of an agreement to integrate tollroad payment systems in the country.
Orbos narrated his first habal-habal experience during his opening speech to emphasize the importance of Friday’s event, scheduled in the midst of the morning rush hour.
Orbos had clarified during his speech that a motorcycle was passing by and he asked to hitch a ride. It was not immediately clear where Orbos hailed the habal-habal or if he paid any money.
“I will not tolerate making the function of DOTr as an excuse to use habal-habal,” Tugade said, addressing Orbos, who by then was seated among the audience.
“I don’t like it, Mr. Orbos, and we should not, at all costs, allow or encourage the use of habal-habal,” Tugade added as the audience’s laughter, which continued, grew uneasy.
Habal-habal, an unregulated motorcycle taxi, is prevalent in some provinces where transportation options are limited.
In Metro Manila, some commuters admit to hailing habal-habal riders, typically via an informal agreement and for a small fee, to squeeze through congested roads and reach nearby destinations in a shorter period of time.
A DOTr official pointed to a Metro Manila Council resolution that bans tricycles and habal-habals on major roads.
Despite its safety risks, there appears wider acceptance of habal-habal operations among the riding public.
This prompted Misamis Oriental Representative Juliette Uy to introduce last year House Bill 2530, which seeks to regulate habal-habal operations.
“The local people in the provinces, most especially those residing in the hinterland areas and even in some urban centers in Luzon, the Visayas and Mindanao, have only the motorcycles-for-hire as the only mode of transportation for passengers and small cargo,” a portion of the proposed law read.
The law seeks to amend Republic Act 4136, or the Land Transportation and Traffic Code, which prohibits the registration for motorcycles-for-hire.
It remains pending with the House Transportation Committee.
Orbos could not be reached for further comment Friday. He left immediately after the event to reach another appointment, likely on a more conventional means of transportation.