Thousands of bikers, supporters demand 'save Angkas'

MANILA, Philippines (UPDATED) – Angkas bikers, commuters, transport advocates, and even Senator Imee Marcos came together on Sunday, December 22, to protest the government's decision to lower the cap on the number of motorcycle taxi service bikers.

Angkas representatives said that around 20,000 bikers and supporters lined White Plains Avenue and EDSA Sunday morning.

Bikers and supporters chanted “Save Angkas!” as representatives from different rider groups protested the lowered cap from 27,000 to 10,000 bikers.

The rally ended with the bikers making their way around Quezon City Circle in a show of solidarity. 

The government's technical working group (TWG) had extended its pilot run of motorcycle taxi services, but set an equal cap among 3 providers: Angkas, JoyRide, and Move It. 

The 3 must split the new cap of 39,000 bikers among them, with each of them being allocated 10,000 bikers for Metro Manila and an additional 3,000 bikers each for Metro Cebu.

Angkas, which was the sole service provider during the initial 6-month trial run, was awarded an initial cap of 27,000 bikers during that period. This will now be reduced to 10,000. (READ: After 3 years, Angkas is still not making money)

Lost jobs?

In a statement on Saturday, December 21, Angkas chief transport advocate George Royeca said that 17,000 of their bikers, many of whom have been serving the public since 2017, will lose their jobs

“That’s a compromise to the quality of service you can expect, and a direct blow to over 17,000 Filipino families,” he said.

Later that day, Royeca’s statement caused the local hashtag #SaveAngkas to trend worldwide on Twitter, with Filipinos across the world expressing anger and disappointment over the government's decision and sympathy and praise for Angkas and its bikers.

TWG for motorcycle taxis chairman Antonio Gardiola Jr of the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board responded to Angkas, saying that their bikers who are deactivated can be absorbed into the two new companies.

Jobert Bolanos, Chairman of the Motorcycle Rights Organization, addressed Gardiola on Facebook early Sunday, December 22, reading his response at a press conference after the rally: "And now, where will the 17,000 displaced riders of the first provider go? Will they be absorbed by the new players? Based on our research on the other players, chances are slim, because these companies already have their own pool of riders. In fact, one of the players [has] already started pooling several months ago."

Those present at the rally also said they did not want to work for other motorcycle taxi apps.

Bagong Henerasyon Representative Bernadette Herrera on Sunday, December 22, said that the Philippine Competition Commission should intervene amid contested claims that riders affected by the decreased allotment will be absorbed by two emerging companies.

Aside from PCC, Angas may also consider going to the Court of Appeals for remedies, she added.

“I appeal to the PCC to on its own (motu proprio) without need for petition to take cognizance of the decision of the competition policies of LTFRB on TNCs, including the new decisions on Angkas and two entering market players,” Herrera said.

At the rally, Marcos spoke onstage, asking support for Senate Bill 409, an act “recognizing motorcycles as public utility vehicles,” which she introduced in July. 

Marcos’ bill is one of many that seek to regulate motorcycles-for-hire and their business operations.

In January, the House of Representatives passed on 3rd and final reading House Bill 8959 or the Motorcycles-for-Hire Act. Its counterpart measure in the Senate, Senate Bill 2180, already passed the committee level. – Rappler.com