Ride-hailing motorcycle taxis can continue operating despite a Department of Transportation order to terminate their pilot program and to arrest drivers who ply their routes next week, Senator Christopher “Bong” Go said Monday.
“I talked to Secretary [Arthur] Tugade and Chairman Martin Delgra [of the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board] and told them to extend the operations and not stop the pilot,” said Go, a close aide of President Rodrigo Duterte.
Go said in the interest of public convenience, he asked Tugade to cancel his order and allow the pilot program to continue until RA 4136 or the Land Transportation and Traffic Code can be amended to include motorcycles as a public transport option.
He assured drivers of Angkas, JoyRide, and MoveIt they could continue operating next week with no fear of arrest.
During yesterday’s Senate hearing on the legalization of motorcycles conducted by the Senate public services committee chaired by Senator Grace Poe, Go said he will recommend to President Rodrigo Duterte and Tugade to extend the pilot program for the ride-hailing companies.
He said, however, that the companies should follow the recommendations of an LTFRB technical working group on motorcycle taxis, and follow safety guidelines for the protection of their passengers.
“I will support the continuation of the program, “ Go told the Senate hearing.
Go said ride-hailing services such as Angkas help ease the traffic in Metro Manila and other cities by providing an alternate option to existing public transporation.
“It provides cheaper and faster services compared to many offered by other four-wheeled vehicles.... It also helps thousands of previously unregulated habal-habal drivers by enabling them to become part of the formal economy,” he said.
“We also acknowledge the high safety standards being observed by Angkas, which include 1) accepting drivers with no less than two years of driving experience; 2) their units must not be older than seven years old; 3) training with written and practical exams needed to be passed; and 4) helmets and reflectors being provided to drivers and passengers alike. “
However, under existing laws, motorcycles may not be used for public transport, he said.
Because of this, he cited the need to amend RA 4136.
Considering its pioneering status, Angkas was tapped as a participant in the pilot implementation, which began in June 2019.
The technical working group has opened up the pilot program to include two other participants, but limited each company to 10,000 drivers―a move that hurts Angkas, which already has more than 20,000 drivers.
Senate President Pro Tempore Ralph Recto criticized the “arbitrariness” of the TWG decision to limit each motorcycle-hailing company to 10,000 drivers, its failure to hold public consultations, then its angry reaction when people complained.
Earlier, the Mandaluyong City Regional Trial Court issued a temporary restraining order that halted for 72 hours the implementation of the government’s ceiling on the number of motorcycle taxis allowed to participate in the ongoing pilot program.
“It shows that you lack public consultations. That’s why the court issued a TRO against you... And then because of the TRO, you show anger. It is clear in this document, too much anger. Because they had a rally against you, you’re now angry,” Recto said.
Senator Sherwin Gatchalian echoed Recto’s views.
“What you’re doing is revenge. This is revenge,” said Gatchalian of the TWG’s recommendation to terminate the pilot testing of motorcycle taxis.
“All of these have no basis and you heard what our senators said and all of us agree that this resolution is not right because our riding public are already suffering,” he said.
Gatchalian said he was not convinced the legal actions taken by Angkas should hinder the implementation of the TWG activities.
He noted the TRO covered only the 10,000-driver cap.
Poe also asked the government to reconsider its decision to end the pilot test program.
Senator Joel Villanueva also said the TWG’s abrupt decision to cancel the pilot was illogical.
By outlawing motorcycle taxis, the TWG placed the riding public dependent on motorcycle taxis at risk, because they might patronize illegal and unregulated versions of the service.
In an interview before the Senate hearing, TWG chairman Antonio Gardiola Jr. said the TWG would recommend the termination of the study due to the “legal rigmarole” surrounding the pilot test.
“We cannot gather data because of actions being undertaken of one of the players so it’s better to terminate it,” Gardiola said, clearly referring to Angkas suit against the LTFRB.
He said once the study has been terminated, motorcycles taxis would be deemed illegal.
“So maybe a week from now, we will start enforcement already,” Gardiola said.
The TWG also recommended the blacklisting of Angkas and its incorporators from further participating as a motorcycle taxi service provider as they “blatantly exhibited defiance on mandated guileless set by the TWG.”
On Wednesday, a Mandaluyong court junked the petition by motorcycle taxi company Angkas for another temporary restraining order against the TWG’s revised guidelines for motorcycle taxis.
This came after Angkas filed a separate petition before the Quezon City Regional Trial Court for a TRO against the new rider cap, apprehension of “excess riders,” and exclusion of its two competitors from the program.
Angkas also filed an earlier petition for a 72-hour TRO against the revised guidelines which it obtained on Jan. 6.
The revised guidelines issued in December last year limited the maximum number of riders in Metro Manila to 30,000 and in Metro Cebu to 9,000―divided equally among the three approved companies, Angkas, JoyRide, and Move It.
Angkas claimed the new rider cap would result in the loss of jobs for 17,000 of its riders.
Angkas and JoyRide on Monday said they will appeal to the Department of Transportation to recall its order terminating the pilot run for motorcycle taxis in Metro Manila and Cebu.
Angkas chief transport advocate George Royeca told reporters he is open to negotiate with the government and come up with a win-win solution to resolve the issue on motorcycle taxis.
Noli Eala, JoyRide vice president for corporate affairs said he was surprised with the decision of the government to terminate the pilot run for motorcycle taxis.
“We will observe first what the TWG will do this week as they were instructed by Senator Grace Poe to review their decision. Depending on what will happen then we will come up with our own appropriate action,” he said.
“Based on what we’ve heard today, I think they should reconsider. Of course, we will always comply with what the government going to decide. Considering the study has not been fully exhausted, and I
think there’s still a need for additional data to be gathered in order to craft strong legislation. I think the program should continue,” Eala added.
The pilot run for motorcycle taxis is from Dec. 23, 2019 to March 23.
The extension of the pilot run was supported by Senators Poe, Recto, Gatchalian, Go, Villanueva and Imee Marcos.
Poe said the pilot must continue to help legislators craft a law governing their operations.
A Transportation department spokesperson, Goddess Hope Libiran, said the TWG would consider the senators’ views.
“In fact, right after the Senate hearing, the TWG immediately convened to initially discuss such sentiments,” she said.
In the House, Bayan Muna Party-list Rep. Ferdinand Gaite on Monday denounced the abrupt termination of motorcycle taxi operations.
“One minute they are saying that they do not have enough data, the next minute they’re terminating the study without even having conclusive results,” Gaite said.
He said Gardiola’s “immature action meant to spite Angkas for its legal actions would cause commuters and drivers undue suffering.”
“It now begs asking if Gardiola is really after ensuring the safety of the commuting public in this type of transport or something else,” he added.
Gaite said, “Gardiola should end this petty quarreling with Angkas, and for once really put the welfare of the public in mind, both commuters and riders alike. LTFRB should finish the safety study, produce a complete report, and recommend real solutions.”
The labor group Defend Job Philippines on Monday also denounced the government’s decision to terminate the motorcycle taxi pilot run.
DJP said it stood with more than 47,000 riders of existing motorcycle taxi firms. With Maricel V. Cruz, Joel E. Zurbano, and PNA
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