Rooftop rides in Cordillera PUVs common but illegal, say execs
BAGUIO CITY—The more adventurous European backpackers usually relish a ride through the upland provinces of the Cordillera clinging to their luggage on top of the roofs of jeepneys or minibuses.
But that’s actually illegal, according to the Department of Transportation and Communications (DOTC), and police have been instructed to flag down erring public utility vehicles (PUVs) that ferry passengers in this unusual fashion.
Lawyer Brenda Poklay, DOTC Cordillera legal officer, said allowing passengers to ride atop the vehicle’s roof was not only a public hazard but a violation of the overloading ban.
The practice is common in many Cordillera provinces, owing to the terrain and the scarcity of PUVs, although Poklay stressed that it had never been tolerated.
To discourage the practice, the DOTC plans to open new PUV franchises especially in areas where new roads have been developed, according to Celina Claver, DOTC Cordillera director.
Kalinga and its newly created City of Tabuk need improved PUV access, but the DOTC has also begun inspecting roads leading to Lamut, Tinoc and Lagawe towns in Ifugao to determine if the agency could open new jeepney and bus routes there, she said.
The upland provinces of the Cordillera rely on tourist traffic. The National Statistical Coordination Board says 64,285 of the Cordillera’s 955,133 tourists in 2011 were foreigners, many of them from Europe and East Asia.
Purificacion Molintas, Cordillera director of the Department of Tourism, said her agency was involved in road safety and road building concerns because of a new mandate to increase and improve provincial roads leading to major tourism destinations.
Edilberto Carabaccan, Cordillera director of the Department of Public Works and Highways, said upland Cordillera had the most unpaved roads in the region. Vincent Cabreza, Inquirer Northern Luzon
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