Cabaero: Clarify rule on back riders

Nini Cabaero

THE Land Transportation Office (LTO) will have to be clear about its implementation of the law against overloading of vehicles, particularly having riders at the back area meant for cargo.

After it was announced on Wednesday, Oct. 9, 2019, vehicle owners raised questions on possible exceptions given certain realities. For example, some asked if cargadors or loaders can be allowed at the back area to watch over the load during transit. With incidents of theft from the back of vehicles, these cargadors help prevent that.

How about family members on the way to a beach or picnic? It’s a family vehicle and there might be things and pets that have to be held by someone during the trip. Will this qualify as a violation?

These were asked following the announcement of Victor Caindec, LTO 7 director, about a central office directive to strictly implement the prohibition on the operation of motor vehicles exceeding the registered passenger capacity and on passengers riding outside of the vehicle at the space intended for cargo and freight.

SunStar Cebu reported that violators may have to pay a fine of P2,000 to P3,000 and face suspension of the certificate of public convenience.

Caindec said his office has started informing local government units (LGUs) of this directive. He said they will have to be made aware of this latest LTO thrust because “we observed that most of those violating this are government trucks.”

He was right. A recent incident pointed to that. Last July 19, seven school children and two others died after a government-owned mini dump truck flipped in Boljoon, southern Cebu. The elementary school pupils were on their way to attend the opening of a district sports meet in the town center.

Caindec was probably not targeting family vehicles and those who need to have a few persons to guard their things at the back when he announced the directive. But he has to be categorical in his instructions; otherwise, this is a directive that enforcers would not enforce, like the seatbelt rule.

Even provisions of the law cited in the directive were unclear as to the targets. Caindec said the LTO central office told regional directors to enforce Sections 32 and 51 of Republic Act (RA) 4136, or the Land Transportation and Traffic Code.

But Section 32 only said, “No person operating any vehicle shall allow more passenger or more freight or cargo in his vehicle than its registered carrying capacity.”

Section 51 on hitching to a vehicle said, “No person shall hang on to, ride on, the outside or the rear end of any vehicle, and no person on a bicycle, roller skate or other similar device, shall hold fast to or hitch on to any moving vehicle...”

It is common to see pickup vehicles and multicabs with riders at the back. Enforcers have to be able to differentiate between those that are allowed and those that violate outright the overloading rule.