Groups threaten graft complaint vs TWG of motorcycle taxi pilot run

Loreben Tuquero
Lawyers ask why Senator Pimentel endorsed Joyride to the motorcycle taxi pilot run, and why 9 other applicants were denied entry

IRREGULARITIES? Concerned lawyers present documents to the media which they claim show irregularities in the technical working group's decision-making process. Photo by Loreben Tuquero/Rappler

MANILA, Philippines – After it was revealed that Senator Aquilino “Koko” Pimentel III endorsed the entry of JoyRide into the motorcycle taxi pilot run, concerned lawyers are now set to file a graft complaint against members of the overseeing technical working group (TWG) for “serious irregularities” in its decision-making.

The extended pilot run included two new players, JoyRide and Move It, which will now operate alongside pioneer motorcycle ride-hailing firm Angkas until March 23. 

The objective of the pilot run supervised by the TWG is to determine the viability of motorcycles as a mode of public transportation.

The TWG earlier said that it heard proposals from 4 other players which were denied entry into the pilot run.

But in a press briefing on Friday, January 3, Lawyers for Commuter Safety and Protection (LCSP) member Ariel Inton said that a total of 9 other groups applied to join the motorcycle taxi pilot run but were denied entry by the TWG. These include:

  • VRoom Go
  • Citimuber
  • Trans-Serve 
  • EsetGo
  • Go-Jek
  • Grab
  • Hitch
  • Backryde
  • Hava App

Inton questioned why these applicants were not granted entry, saying the TWG did not explain its evaluation of each provider.

LCSP member Raymond Fortun said TWG Chairman Antonio Gardiola Jr would be one of the respondents, along with other members of the TWG who participated in the decision-making.

Fortun questioned the mandate of Gardiola as the chairman of the TWG, since the initial 6-month pilot run guidelines were approved by Transportation Undersecretary Mark de Leon and signed by Transportation Secretary Arthur Tugade. 

The revised guidelines for the extension, however, were only signed by Gardiola and Land Transportation Office Chief Edgar Galvante. Gardiola is also a board member of the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board. (DOCUMENT: Updated guidelines on the motorcycle taxi pilot run

Fortun claimed that the Department of Transportation did not release a department order delegating the TWG as the one solely responsible for the pilot implementation of motorcycle taxis.

The lawyers also reiterated their earlier complaints that the TWG failed to consult civil society groups, such as commuter welfare and road safety advocates, in deciding on the extension as well as the inclusion of new players.

According to Fortun, they are filing the complaint early next week.

But Gardiola seemed unfazed. “No [problem], we will face it,” he told Rappler in a text message.

However, he did not clarify the basis for accepting only two out of the 11 applicants into the pilot run.

What about Pimentel? Inton and Fortun said that the LCSP was also contemplating filing an ethics complaint against Pimentel for his endorsement.

Fortun questioned why JoyRide had to secure assistance from Pimentel in its bid to join the pilot run. “Nababahiran ng dungis ‘yung ginawa ng senador (The senator’s endorsement is tainted),” Fortun said.

Fortun cited Section 4b of Republic Act No. 6713 or the Code of Conduct and Ethical Standards for Public Officials and Employees, which states that public officials must act with the highest degree of professionalism.

Trixie Angeles also pointed out the option of having the Senate ethics committee discipline the senator.

Earlier, Pimentel justified his endorsement, saying he did it to prevent Angkas from being a monopoly. – Rappler.com

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Loreben Tuquero

Loreben Tuquero is a researcher-writer for Rappler. Before transferring to Rappler's Research team, she covered transportation, Quezon City, and the Department of the Interior and Local Government as a reporter. She graduated with a communication degree from the Ateneo de Manila University.