Motorcycle taxi TWG accuses Angkas of ’emotional blackmail’

Motorcycle taxi TWG accuses Angkas of ’emotional blackmail’
(UPDATED) The government's technical working group addresses Angkas executive George Royeca in an open letter posted on social media

MANILA, Philippines (UPDATED) – The government’s technical working group (TWG), which is assigned to observe the pilot run of motorcycle taxi services, has penned an open letter to Angkas, accusing it of “emotional blackmail.” (READ: ‘Don’t muddle the issue,’ Angkas hits back at government)

The letter, posted on the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board’s (LTFRB) official Facebook page on Monday, December 23, addressed Angkas chief transport advocate George Royeca directly, saying that Angkas is trying to monopolize the industry by “drumming up the imagined suppression and unfair treatment of Angkas.”

The letter read: “It is quite unfortunate that ANGKAS has made a public spectacle, and has resorted to emotional blackmail in its attempt to cement its foothold on this transport service.”

“It is one thing to make an assiduous representation to state your case and your points on the matter, but it is another thing to use the issue as a forum to protect your vested interest at the expense of the government, which has nothing but the overall public interest in mind.” (READ: TWG allows gradual displacement of Angkas bikers ‘in the spirit of Christmas‘)

It also reiterated points made in their earlier statement that Angkas’ 17,000 bikers will not be displaced under the TWG’s new guidelines, that the TWG is preventing a monopoly by introducing two new players, and that the motorcycle taxi service program is still on a pilot run, which means Angkas does not have an official transport franchise.

 

In an interview with Rappler on Monday, Royeca told the government not to muddle the issue, saying that Angkas is concerned about the safety of the public and the livelihood of their bikers. Angkas, he said, is not interested in monopolizing the industry because once a law on motorcycle taxi services is passed, all providers can enter the market.

“I don’t think the government can say anything in reference to what our true intention is on the partnership,” Royeca said, adding that they had trained thousands of bikers for free, developed their infrastructure over 3 years, and gave free rides when the government needed them.

So parang unfair naman ‘yun, na parang sa ganoon na kinu-cut nila ‘yung 17,000 [na bikers] na iniisip lang po namin is profit. Hindi naman po ‘yun naging ugali namin over the last 6 months.

(So it seems unfair, now that they are cutting 17,000 [bikers], to say that we are only thinking of profit. That hasn’t been our position over the last 6 months.)

Under the TWG’s new guidelines, which they released on Friday, December 20, Angkas must cut 17,000 of their bikers in Metro Manila, as they need to share the new 39,000 biker cap with two new players, JoyRide and Move It. The initial cap for Angkas, which was the sole provider in the 6-month pilot, was 27,000.

The TWG, which is composed of representatives from the LTFRB, Land Transportation Office, Department of Transportation, and the InterAgency Council for Traffic, was created to monitor the 6-month pilot run so a law could be passed on motorcycle taxi vehicles as PUVs.

LTFRB board member Antonio Gardiola is chairman of the TWG. 

Angkas and its bikers protested the new rule on Sunday, December 22, demanding that the government “save Angkas” and questioning the TWG’s intentions, given what Angkas described as a sudden announcement.

‘Anti-competitive, morally wrong’

In a statement, Royeca responded to the points raised in the TWG’s letter, saying that forcing their bikers out of Angkas to work for the two new players is “not only anti-competitive but is also morally wrong.”

The other companies have started onboarding their own riders, reasoned Angkas, so it would not guarantee jobs for those they would lay off. 

“As such, there is merit to keep the status quo where Angkas bikers already have a proven track record for safety while still allowing other players to come in. Both are not mutually exclusive,” he said, adding that the two new players should also exercise caution in building their fleet to avoid possible safety risks.

Royeca also called the TWG’s accusation of Angkas wanting a monopoly misleading. 

“We are merely questioning the manner by which these decisions were arrived at – which we believe was not done with utmost transparency as many of the stakeholders including other government agencies such as HPG, MMDA, Congress, and Senate, as well as members from civil society were removed and not consulted.” 

Angkas has hinted at possible corruption before, citing “secret meetings” among the TWG that did not include representatives from the Senate, House of Representatives, biker and rider groups, and commuter groups. 

Gardiola denied these allegations at a press conference, on Monday, December 23, saying the only times the TWG met without observers present was when they assessed which new players should take part in the pilot extension and when they inspected the ones they had chosen.

“What we aspire for is simple,” said Royeca in his response to the TWG. “Yes, include as many new players as you want, but please remove the cap per provider and make it a pool where bikers are free to choose where they want to be accredited.” 

Angkas and its bikers protested the new rule on Sunday, December 22, demanding that the government “save Angkas” and questioning the TWG’s intentions, given what Angkas described as a sudden announcement.

At the protest, Angkas bikers expressed not wanting to work for the other two companies, saying that displacement will push them to return to their habal-habal work, or unregulated motorcycle taxis. – Rappler.com

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