At the onset of the holiday season in the Philippines, Metro Manila commuters have felt the usual traffic jams and the lack of public transport services.
The usual frustration have doubled when what supposed to be the “hope” and aid to many commuters during these times, especially among the majority of the working populace, was given a TRO (Temporary Restraining Order) by the Supreme Court in favor of the LTFRB (Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board).
Angkas was forced to yield and motorcycle taxi have stopped – well at least the organized, more safe and well-regulated ones – because as many commuters can attest, “Habal-Habal” is still very much alive and LTFRB, DOTR and law enforcements have no way of completely stopping them.
What the TRO did is just put back lawlessness back in the streets – said Angkas Operations Head David Medrana and Head of Regulatory and Public Affairs George Royeca during a brief press conference held at the Steak To One Restaurant in Quezon City Memorial Circle last night before the #SaveAngkas Thanksgiving Concert.
Without the legitimate Angkas ride-hailing service, passengers are forced to use underground habal-habal services, according to Angkas Operations Head David Medrana.
“These habal-habals are riskier for our commuters because many of these bikers have no drivers’ licenses, have had no training in proper motorcycle safety procedures and proper motorcycle regulations, and offer no insurance at all,” he added.
Joining Medrana and Royeca in the conference is Atty. Ariel Inton, President of the Lawyers For Commuters’ Safety and Protection group, who pledge his support to the #SaveAngkas initiative.
During the interview, Royeca said that they have already submitted all the necessary information and data that would prove that their system is working to benefit both Angkas drivers and the riding public that they serve. Highlight of this is the 99.997 % safety records for Angkas since it started its operation.
The LTFRB continues to insist that motorcycles are unfit for passenger transport due to safety issues. Angkas officials stress, however, that the LTFRB has consistently ignored Angkas’ safety record as well as proof of the precautions it takes to ensure passenger safety, including biker training and assessment, quality helmets, and accident insurance.
The win-win solution to this according Royeca is for LTFRB (and the government) to see Angkas as an ally to providing Filipino commuters with the safest, cheapest and most convenient way to reach their destinations. And that the only hindrance to this is the inability of the opposing party to see the new system as necessary and as “the” better option.
“Change is difficult, but it is sometimes necessary, for the greater good.”
I think this sums up what the #SaveAngkas initiative is trying to say to the government.
After the Unity Ride last week, Angkas has gained massive support from various celebs, lawmakers, and the general public.
Thousands of people – all Angkas customers and supporters – went to the free concert last night that featured top celebrities such as Nadine Lustre, Sam Concepcion, Hale, Ella Cruz, Shanti Dope, Mayonnaise, Quest, Ex Battalion, Gab Valenciano, and Andrew E.
In short videos shown during the concert, other prominent stars expressed their support for Angkas including Dingdong Dantes, Yassi Presman, Matteo Guidicelli, Tim Yap, Rovilson Fernandez, Marc Nelson, Phoemela Barranda, Kim Atienza, Myrtle Sarasa, Sabbie Rodriguez, Shawn Yao, Fabio Ide, and Jinno Rufino.
Lawmakers and government officials threw in their support for Angkas. Congressmen Winston Castelo, Cristal Bagatsing, Rodel Batocabe, Johnny T. Pimental, Xavier Jesus Romualdo, and Cebu Mayor Tomas Osmeña all issued statements in favor of the continued operation of Angkas considering the sorry state of mass transport in the country today and the benefits that the service has been providing local commuters.
Former LTFRB Chairman Winston Ginez reiterated in his post that Angkas should be allowed to operate and that the LTFRB and the DOTr have the power to legitimize and regulate the ride-hailing service.
Congressman Castelo, Chairman of the House Committee on Metro Manila Development, likewise urged the DOTr to allow Angkas to continue its operation for the sake of public interests.
In a recent statement, Castelo said the DOTr can issue a Department Order to allow Angkas’ ride-hailing operations in the same manner that transportation network companies (TNC) or transport network vehicle services (TNVS) like Grab were allowed to do so.
“A mere DO can suffice to lessen the suffering of the commuting public. DOTr should realize this. If they cannot provide efficient and reliable mass transportation system as they are mandated to do, they should at least be creative and use modern technology. We should not be technical and legalistic on this while millions of Filipinos are suffering from traffic and losing PHP2 billion in lost opportunities,” Castelo said.
Rep. Johnny T. Pimentel of Surigao del Sur, in turn, decried the timing of the SC order.
“Actually, the TRO is only temporary, however, the timing is not right considering the Christmas rush. Many commuters are having a hard time getting a ride. This will again be a big burden to our traveling public,” Pimentel said in a news report.
Around 130,000 netizens have signed an online petition calling on the government to #SaveAngkas and regulate motorcycle taxis instead of prohibiting them from operating. The number of signatories continue to increase for the change.org petition.
The Angkas petition can be found on this link: https://www.change.org/p/ltfrb-saveangkas-and-support-the-regulation-of-motorcycle-taxis-in-the-philippines.