Angkas withdraws raps; test body allows more motorbike taxis
An ad hoc government body conducting a pilot test for motorcycle taxis has agreed to raise the driver cap nationwide to 63,000 and may allow bikes-for-hire even after March 23, as transport regulators and pioneering bike service Angkas have struck a deal to end their dispute.
Angkas has agreed to withdraw the cases it filed against the interagency technical working group (TWG) in the Mandaluyong and Quezon City courts, removing legal obstacles to the full rollout of the test run.
Speaking to reporters on Wednesday, the TWG chair, Antonio Gardiola, said the group had agreed to raise the driver cap in Metro Manila to 45,000, or 15,000 each for Angkas and newcomers JoyRide and MoveIt.
The earlier cap given to Angkas was 10,000, against which it successfully secured a temporary restraining order (TRO) from a Quezon City court. Had the cap been enforced, 17,000 of Angkas’ 27,000 drivers would have been displaced.
In addition, each motorcycle taxi-service provider can have 3,000 drivers in Cebu and another 3,000 in a new area, Cagayan de Oro City, which has an ordinance allowing “habal-habal,” Gardiola said.
Thus, Angkas, MoveIt and JoyRide can each deploy up to 21,000 drivers, or a total of 63,000.
While the TWG still rejects “multihoming,” in which any rider can register and switch between multiple platforms, Gardiola said the group would put in place a “redistribution provision” that allowed any operator to take on the slots that the others could not fill. Only MoveIt has yet to fill its 10,000 slots.
‘Harmonious discussion’These concessions, Gardiola said, were hammered out during a “harmonious discussion” presided over by Transport Secretary Arthur Tugade after senators called on the official to reconsider his approval of the TWG recommendation to terminate the three-month test run, the second and final leg for Angkas but a first for MoveIt and JoyRide.
Several lawmakers and commuter groups objected to the TWG recommendation, expressing concern that the interagency body flexed its muscles to force Angkas, a wildly popular service, to withdraw all its cases against the 10,000 cap.
Angkas spokesperson George Royeca said the company had withdrawn both petitions for writ of preliminary injunction in the Mandaluyong and Quezon City courts as of Wednesday, as it “heeded the opinions of senators and the congressmen” who had wanted it to find common ground with regulators.
“The cases were meant to show grievance on one of the conditions in the TWG guidelines and that’s what it was for and not for anything else. We are now in support of collaboration,’’ Royeca said. “We spoke with the Secretary [Tugade] yesterday. Everybody is involved and everybody wants to make it work for the riding community.”
Threat of blacklisting lifted
In turn, the TWG lifted the threat of blacklisting Angkas for supposedly defying several provisions of the ad hoc body’s guidelines, Gardiola said.
“Actually the blacklisting is not even directed at one player,” he said. The crackdown, Gardiola said, was also aimed at targeting fly-by-night outfits that offer motorcycle taxis unsafe on the road.
But, the TWG’s recommendation submitted to Tugade’s office clearly singled out Angkas and its parent corporation, DBDOYC Inc., should a law be enacted to allow bikes-for-hire.
On Wednesday, however, the two camps appeared ready to move on, with the TWG expressing openness to allowing motorcycle taxis to continue operating after the test ends on March 23.
“Hopefully, we can get the success of the pilot for the necessary law to be passed,” Royeca said.
In hindsight, he said, Angkas’ legal battle with the TWG was a ”testament to how good our democracy is.”
“Everyone came together: you had the judiciary, you had the legislative, the people, the executive and the private sector all coming together despite all differences,” Royeca said. “It may not always be a straight line but we won’t stop because we do this for the people.”
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