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Sharp Edges

Strict regulation a must for motorcycle taxis, illegal couriers

/ 04:01 AM December 24, 2019

The thousands of motorcycles on our roads are either “time savers” or potential hazards to motorists and pedestrians. They need to be strictly regulated by the government agencies concerned.

The Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) has extended until March 23, 2020, the six-month “pilot experiment” for motorcycle taxis operated by Angkas. The dry run was originally set to end on Thursday, Dec. 26. The transport board also allowed two other motorcycle service companies, JoyRide and MoveIt, to participate in the pilot test, limiting each of the three firms to 10,000 bikers in Metro Manila and 1,000 in Cebu. At the same time, the LTFRB hiked the engine displacement of motorcycles from 100cc to 150cc. On record, Angkas has 27,000 riders. With the LTFRB announcement, 17,000 of them will have to move either to JoyRide or MoveIt.

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Right now, motorcycle taxis are not considered public utility vehicles which are required to have a personal accident insurance of P400,000 per passenger. They are also not regarded as transport network companies like Grab and Uber.

Angkas claims each passenger is covered by a P200,000 insurance on top of its 99.9-percent safety record.

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I believe the LTFRB was right in breaking Angkas’ monopoly of the six-month pilot test. More importantly, safety concerns over “two-wheeled taxis” should not be compromised just because they make travel more convenient.

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The Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT) has began registering motorcycle riders operated by “foreign-owned and unlicensed courier services.” Unconfirmed reports say the top five couriers have more than 5,000 drivers each. The DICT has listed 113 courier companies, including 2GO Express Inc., Go 21, JRS and LBC.

But top online shopping companies like Lazada, Shoppee, Zalora and Carousell prefer NinjavanPH, EntregoPH and J&T Express, among others, to deliver their goods nationwide even if these do not have a DICT license.

With internet e-commerce growing to P44 trillion in 2018 from P36 trillion in 2017, these unlicensed couriers are now billion-peso companies and sadly, wholly owned by foreigners which is in violation of the constitution. Manila Rep. Lito Atienza has called for an investigation of what he called the “big-time colorum courier companies.”

Another concern is the rising incidence of illegal drug deliveries via unlicensed couriers. According to the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency, there was a 775-percent increase in these illegal transactions in 2018 compared to 2017.

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In the midst of jubilation over the recent conviction of the Ampatuans for the Maguindanao massacre, we should not forget the two Department of Justice (DOJ) prosecutors who stood their ground during the trial. make particular mention of then State Prosecutor Leo Dacera, head of the DOJ’s witness protection program, and Maguindanao provincial prosecutor Al Calica who forced the Ampatuans to submit to an investigation, subjected them to an inquest and ordered their outright arrest.

At that time, all the prosecutors in the province had filed a leave of absence in apparent fear of the Ampatuans. Dacera and Calica, however, had the courage to stand up to the powerful political clan.

Were if not for these two Aquila Legis DOJ prosecutors, the Ampatuans would have escaped. Dacera has since succumbed to a heart attack while Calica has retired. Their efforts in ensuring the conviction of the accused should be recognized.

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TAGS: Al Calica, Angkas, DICT, Jake J. Maderazo, joyride, Leo Dacera, LTFRB, Maguindanao massacre, motorcycle taxis, MoveIt, Sharp Edges
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