'Paghihiganti?' Senators slam TWG for ending motorcycle taxi pilot run

MANILA, Philippines – The Senate committee on public services questioned the motive of the inter-agency technical working group (TWG) after it decided to terminate the motorcycle taxi pilot run without consulting stakeholders, reading it as retaliation.

In its recommendation to terminate the pilot run, the TWG said that some actions by motorcycle ride-hailing firm Angkas and its bikers served as "obstacles" to the study, including the rally against the new cap and the petitions for a Temporary Restraining Order against the guidelines.

The extension of the pilot run forced Angkas to slash up to 17,000 of its bikers.

TWG head Antonio Gardiola Jr said the subsequent Temporary Restraining Orders issued against the pilot run guidelines made it hard for them to gather data, prompting them to terminate the pilot run entirely.

But during the hearing on Monday, January 20, Senate President Pro-Tempore Ralph Recto said the cap on the motorcycle taxis seemed arbitrary and lacked public consultation. He also found that the tone of the recommendation was laced with anger.

"Kaya kayo na-TTRO ng korte. yun ang dahilan. Tapos ngayon na na-TRO kayo, galit naman ang pinapakita ninyo. [Maliwanag] sa dokumentong ito eh, puro galit din eh. Dahil nagrally laban sa inyo galit na ka agad kayo," Recto said.

(That's why the courts issue TROs against you. And now that they issued the TRO against you, you're showing anger. It is so clear in this document that you are angry. Just because they rallied against you, you're lashing out.)

Senator Sherwin Gatchalian agreed with the sentiment, saying the failure of the TWG to conduct its data-gathering activities should not be blamed on legal impediments.

"Paghihiganti ho 'tong ginawa niyo eh. Wala ho kasing basehan 'to lahat eh (This is retaliation. This does not have any basis)," Gatchalian said.

After the hearing, committee chair Senator Grace Poe expressed the same thoughts. "Alam mo ang nangyayari dito? Gantihan. Kasi naiinis sila dahil nagrarally ang ibang kompanya, naiinis sila dahil nagfifile ng kaso sa kanila, kaya nila ginawa ito... Sobrang nakakadismaya na ganyan magpatakbo ang mga ibang miyembro ng gobyerno, kung ano lang ang gusto nila, hindi dahil sa kung ano ang tama," she said.

(You know what is happening here? Retaliation. They are annoyed because of the rallies and the petitions, that's why they did this... It's very disappointing that some government officials act this way, that they do what they want regardless of what is right.)

She added that the TWG's capacity to lead the motorcycle taxi pilot run should also be questioned.

The TWG will be convening within the week to discuss the committee's push for reconsideration. Poe urged the public to file cases against the TWG if they push through with the termination.

As of posting, the TWG said it is considering the sentiments of the Senate panel and the resource persons, and will further discuss them on Wednesday, January 22. A report will then be submitted to Transportation Secretary Arthur Tugade.

Meanwhile, on Friday, January 24, the TWG will meet with stakeholders, resource persons, and the 3 motorcycle taxi providers to "iron out the specifics". – Rappler.com