4 January 2020

This refers to the statement made by the Lawyers for Commuter Safety and Protection (LCSP) in their press conference held yesterday, 3 January 2019.

We cite in particular the threat of this commuter advocacy group to take legal action against the members of the Technical Working Group (TWG) alleging irregularities in the conduct of the Motorcycle Taxi Service Pilot Implementation Run. 

LCSP has also made serious allegations against Senator Koko Pimentel III for supposedly influencing the TWG and interceding on behalf of one of the service providers in the Pilot Run, which is Joyride.

While we are most confident that Senator Pimentel can very well address the accusations thrown at him, we at the TWG nevertheless, would like to respond to the baseless and reckless imputations against us.

Firstly, the endorsement of Senator Pimentel on behalf of Joyride is a matter of public record, and as clearly proven in the sequence of events and timeline, HAS NO BEARING on the TWG’s decision-making process and development of the MC Taxi Service Pilot Implementation Run. 

In a press statement, Senator Pimentel admitted that the initial run of the pilot study ended in December 2019 without the participation of JoyRide.

In the same press statement, Senator Pimentel added that what had prompted him to send his endorsement letter to the DOTr was the realization that should motorcycle taxis become legal, the pilot run must not only involve Angkas as the single service provider. 

Senator Pimentel stressed that the pilot run on motorcycle taxis must reflect “real life situations” that would involve a competition and not a monopoly.

Let it be clear that with or without any endorsement letter, the TWG has been fairly dealing with how best to make the MC Taxi Service Pilot Run reflective of the needs of the commuter, and how it can be a transformational public transportation alternative. 

In line with these, the TWG has exerted efforts to determine the capacity of motorcycle taxi transport network companies (TNCs) which expressed interest in joining the extended pilot study after the initial run ended last December 26. 

The TWG subjected all interested motorcycle taxi TNCs to a strict inspection and deliberation process. The interested TNCs were evaluated based on their level of preparation to join the study, the readiness of their respective apps, the competency of their riders, the safety standards of their equipment and riding system, and their respective training facilities, among others. 

We, therefore, find it deplorable that the LCSP  would resort to a politically-motivated deflection of the real issue confronting the program, and will even drag a senator into the fray.

But, it also behoves Angkas to explain why there are certain senators who are taking up the cudgels for them. Should they be imputed with influence-peddling and favoring Angkas as well? 

The press conference yesterday actually begs the question – which entity is the LCSP actually representing?  Is it speaking on behalf of the commuter? 

Why then is the LCSP zeroing in on the entry of Joyride, and raising the very same arguments against the TWG guidelines that were vociferously protested by the original pilot run partner, Angkas?

Is it merely a striking coincidence that the LCSP is earnestly trying to project that it is taking the cudgels for the other TNCs, which, according to them, had been deliberately excluded by the TWG, even as their sudden appearance in yesterday’s press conference was arranged by Geiser-Maclang,  which happens to be the PR agency also of Angkas? 

One really wonders why the LCSP is raising questions on the guidelines of the TWG which clearly establishes its mandate – determine to the fullest extent the viability and safety of the MC Taxi Service, and to foster competition to promote and uphold public interest.  

Curiously, why didn’t the LCSP take up the issue of Angkas and its serious violations and transgressions in the press conference, which reveals how it is has been treating the MC Taxi Service Pilot Run as its own business feasibility study?

Consider the following: 

  1. Angkas has been conducting its business even outside of the designated Pilot Run areas, which is considered illegal under existing laws. 
  2. Angkas has been cited with various safety breach like non-wearing of helmets and vests by its passengers, plus allowing the use of unauthorized safety gear. These are all well-documented and even publicized in social media platforms. 
  3. Angkas continues to adopt and collect surge fees which were already disallowed under the new guidelines. 
  4. And in a blatant display of defiance and arrogance, note how Angkas or DBDOYC (its registered corporate name) did not disclose to the riding public that it is a 99% foreign-owned corporation, and is operating contrary to existing Philippine laws that common carriers should be at least 60% owned by Filipinos. Records from the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) would show that Angkas is 99.996% owned by Angeline Xiwen Tham, a Singaporean, with P9.8 million in subscribed shares. Tham is also listed at the SEC as the president of the corporation.

It bears repeating, and emphasizing, that Angkas is merely operating on the basis of the motorcycle taxi pilot study, a privilege being accorded by the TWG, notwithstanding the legal issues hounding Angkas and its attempt to circumvent existing transport laws, to carry out its business. 

Angkas, using the LSCP, is trying to paint a picture that the TWG is involved in corruption in the conduct of the extended study on the viability and safety of motorcycle as taxis, citing vague allegations of  “serious irregularities” in the selection of new participants.

It is therefore unfortunate, but necessary, that we, at the TWG, are compelled to confront this brazen attempt by Angkas to distort the narrative, using the LCSP as deflection to destroy the credibility of the TWG, and sway public opinion. 

There is nothing irregular in the way the TWG is doing its business as far as the extended study is concerned.

In fact, the TWG has the full weight of authority granted by the government, for it to oversee the MC Taxi Service Pilot Implementation Run, under a Special Order issued last December 19, 2019 duly signed by DOTr Secretary Arthur Tugade.   

The issuance of this SO is clear proof which debunks the unfounded accusation of LCSP that members of the TWG are acting without the necessary authority. The said SO has the pertinent provisions containing the designation of point persons in the TWG, its mandate to run the Pilot Implementation of the MC Taxi Service, the authority to introduce/revise guidelines, and even hire a consultant as may be required. 

As for the TWG itself, we have unwavering faith and confidence in retired Police Major General Antonio Gardiola, Jr., as chairman of the TWG given his extensive experience and background with motorcycles, and in the enforcement of laws as previous head of the PNP Highway Patrol Group (HPG), the Inter-Agency Council for Traffic (I-ACT), and as board member of the LTFRB. 

And, the TWG will not be deterred by threats of lawsuits and charges of corruption. It will continue to discharge its function as mandated by the government, and ensure that the only interest it will uphold and serve is PUBLIC INTEREST. 

So that the public may know.