House approves bill legalizing Angkas, motorcycle taxis

Mara Cepeda
The bill's approval comes more than a month after ride-hailing app Angkas was barred from operating in the country

LEGAL SOON? Angkas riders join a Unity Ride on December 16, 2018, to protest the shutdown of their operations. File photo by Darren Langit/Rappler

MANILA, Philippines – The House of Representatives gave its nod to a measure that would legalize the operations of motorcycle taxis in the Philippines.

On Monday, February 4, lawmakers approved House Bill (HB) 8959 on 3rd and final reading with a vote of 181-0-0.

The measure would amend Republic Act No. 4136 or the Land Transportation and Traffic Code to include motorcycles-for-hire among the vehicles that may be registered with the Land Transportation Office to be used as “a commercial vehicle to transport passengers and goods.”

This means that if HB 8959 is passed into law, the likes of ride-hailing app Angkas and habal-habal or motorcycle taxis would be free to ply Philippine roads to serve commuters. 

Under HB 8959, the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) would be tasked to set and adjust “reasonable” fares and other related charges for these motorcycle taxis.

The LTFRB and the Department of Transportation (DOTr) would be in charge of deciding the routes that the motorcycles-for-hire can take.

In December 2018, the Supreme Court issued a temporary restraining order on a Mandaluyong City court decision that allowed Angkas to hit the streets again. The LTFRB then ordered law enforcers to apprehend Angkas bikers and impound their motorcycles if they continue operating as public utility vehicles.

Legislators have since argued that the DOTr can issue a department order to allow motorcycle taxis to operate again, similar to what the previous administration had done when ride-hailing giant Uber first came to the Philippines.

But the DOTr said it needs more time to assess the safety and other legal issues surrounding motorcycles-for-hire. – Rappler.com

Mara Cepeda

Mara Cepeda specializes in stories about politics and local governance. She covers the Office of the Vice President, the Senate, and the Philippine opposition. She is a 2021 fellow of the Asia Journalism Fellowship and the Reham al-Farra Memorial Journalism Fellowship of the UN. Got tips? Email her at mara.cepeda@rappler.com or tweet @maracepeda.