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Pimentel wants ‍Angkas official out

/ 05:40 AM January 24, 2020

She had violated several Philippine laws and had “bullied” Philippine officials in connection with the operations of the motorcycle taxi company Angkas that she heads, Sen. Aquilino Pimentel III said of Angkas president and Singaporean Angeline Tham, whom he said should be investigated by the Senate and declared persona non grata.

In a resolution, Pimentel said Tham’s “acts of deriding our sovereign laws is high-handed, arrogant and irresponsible, which should not be countenanced but condemned to the fullest.”

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The senator had earlier endorsed the entry of Angkas competitor, JoyRide, in the pilot testing of motorcycle taxis.

In a separate message, Pimentel said his resolution was not in favor of any other operator and was focused on Tham and “how she had behaved as 99-percent business owner of Angkas.”

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“How many laws were violated by this foreign national? Hence, this cannot be in favor of anybody, but the need for the foreigner to now account for her actions,” he said.

Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra said that while he expected Malacañang “to give much weight to the Senate resolution, once approved,” only the President or the secretary of foreign affairs have the authority to declare foreigners persona non grata, which will lead to their being expelled from the Philippines.

“Although Senator Pimentel’s proposed resolution is nonbinding, the executive department will give it the utmost respect and consideration due to a coequal branch of government,” he told reporters on Thursday.

According to Pimentel, Tham owns 99.996 percent of Angkas motorcycle taxi’s shares and was identified as president of the company in official documents.

This was refuted by Angkas’ head of regulatory and public affairs, George Royeca, Tham’s husband, who said he was now the owner of Angkas. Pimentel said Angkas had embarked on a social media campaign “designed to shame and bully government agencies who merely implemented the law.”

The senator said that “the foregoing blatant transgressions of our laws, misleading and bullying behavior targeting Philippine government officials could only have been done with the explicit complicity of Angeline Xiwan Tham.”

After being sued by Angkas for certain aspects of its pilot testing run, members of the interagency technical working group stopped the pilot testing program before it could run its course until March this year, and declared the operation of all motorcycle taxi groups as illegal, with riders subject to arrest.‍‍‍

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The officials, however, backed down following a Senate hearing that slammed their action as “vindictive” and done at the expense of Filipino commuters.‍

Sen. Imee Marcos said she did not favor blacklisting Tham as “investors might not go to the Philippines anymore.” —WITH A REPORT FROM DONA Z. PAZZIBUGAN

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TAGS: Angkas, persona non grata, Pimentel, Tham, Transportation
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