Taxikick seems like a knight dressed in shining armor to defend taxi or cab passengers who were, in one way or another, fell victims to so-called abusive taxi drivers.
At first glance, it looks like it has become the hope of the helpless. In fact, based on its website as of January 4, 2012 it has become so popular that it been tweeted 842 times, and recommended in Facebook by around 2,000 individuals. It has even caught attention by the national news.
But the basic question remains: "Will Taxikick serve its purpose of eliminating alleged rude and abusive cab drivers in Metro Manila?"
Before we answer that question, let me point out, based on my limited paralegal knowledge the following questions and observations:
- The site does not provide for real names or identification of the complainants. The Philippine legal system requires that a complainant appears before the proper court (or authorities, in this case the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board [LTFRB]). For a case to be established, there has to be a complainant and a plaintiff, and the complaint itself.
- It does not provide the name of the cab driver. Of course it is difficult to establish this fact. But cab drivers are supposed to hang their identification cards on the rear view mirror for the passenger to see. If there is none, then this becomes a violation. Different cab drivers drive a single cab in a day. So it is very important that the name of the cab driver has to be established. Yes, it is difficult to get the name, but do not react yet at this point until you read the succeeding observations.
- The date and time of the incident is not being reported. This is very important to provide the lead to establish and gather information on the name of driver and the operator. The taxi companies or those franchise holders who own several units must have a record on the driver who drove a particular unit on a particular day and time. In cases when the franchise owner owns only one unit, it is easier to establish this fact. It is also important that the time frame is provided.
- The information on route is not provided. Again, this is to establish some factual evidence.
- The supposedly violations in the drop down menu provided, need further validation and concurrence from the LTFRB. The supposedly violations must be included in official list of violations as stated in the franchise agreement the operators have signed. It does not mean that these are not needed, complaints such as "smelly interiors" and "dilapidated" may just appear to be whims and caprices of the riding public. If LTFRB does not conform to these "violations" then the taxi drivers could be wrongly and unjustly accused of an alleged crime that does not exist.
Granting that this initiative may be a good example of people's participation in law enforcement, it has to be taken with a grain of salt. Why? I have the following concerns:
- Some people may be just too trigger happy and just use the site at their whims and caprices. It does not augur well for a case to be established.
- It may just become a site to rant and not really pursuing the case against the alleged abusive taxi drivers.
- In reality, commuting public does not want to be bothered at all after reporting the case. I have yet to hear a news that a cab driver has been punished after a successful hearing with the LTFRB. (If you know one, please inform me.) If this is the case, then this effort would prove inutile in going after allegedly abusive cab drivers.
- How this information will reach the proper authorities is another big question. Initially, on the evening news in GMA7 and ABC5 last January 3, 2012, LTFRB already said that these complaints will not hold as the complainant has to personally appear in the complaints section of the LTFRB. Granting we do this ourselves, are we willing to attend LTFRB hearings?
- And more importantly, we may need to reform the judicial and administrative policies and systems just to accommodate this initiative, which primarily involves information technology in filing a complaint. This is not just a simple customer service complaint. We are dealing with established and ingrained legal systems.
Taxikick has failed to call upon the participation of major stakeholders in the transportation industry--the LTFRB and the association of taxi franchisers/ operators. For governance to become efficient and effective does not rest on a gung ho private initiative alone. We are thirsty for change! We all want change for the benefit of the riding public. Who would not want to ride taxi cabs with courteous and honest drivers like in the case of Davao City and Baguio City, who would not hesitate to return your P1.50 change, even if you insist that they keep the change? For law enforcement, stakeholders agreeing to specific positions is very crucial. We should ensure that the franchise holders agree and support this initiative, and give due credence to the role of LTFRB. Otherwise, they would merely see it as an affront to their agency and their efficiency. They should not be relegated to the background or just come as an afterthought.
For some other future initiatives like this, we can draw lessons from this. It is the prayer of this blogger, however, that the Taxikick principals would be able to thresh out these issues with the LTFRB and the franchise holders.