Around 20,000 Angkas riders gathered at the EDSA Kalayaan shrine on Sunday to protest the
Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB)’s decision to limit its riders from 27,000 to 10,000.
According to a report by The STAR, the technical working group (TWG) of the LTFRB has allowed two new players, Move It and JoyRide, to join the pilot testing of motorcycles as a mode of transportation. In connection, the transport regulator put a 30,000 cap on the number of riders, which will be equally divided among the three ride-hailing firms. LTFRB member Antonio Gardiola said that the inclusion of the two additional firms seeks to ensure that the industry would not be monopolized by Angkas.
However, Angkas chief transport advocate George Royeca said that aside from adversely affecting commuter welfare, the decision could also negatively impact more than 17,000 of Angkas employees.
This means that Angkas, which currently has 27,000 riders, will have to let go 17,000 of its riders to comply with the 10,000 cap.
“Thousands of Angkas drivers could be laid off,” Royeca said.
The interagency body said it reduced the number of Angkas riders to include drivers from Move It and JoyRide.
Royeca hinted of possible corruption in the “anti-competition” guidelines issued by the LTFRB.
“I believe there are irregularities here,” Royeca told reporters, and thumbed down the LTFRB’s statement that the surplus of Angkas riders could be absorbed by the new players.
“When you are forcing a driver to get out and (be) reallocated to another (firm), that is anti-competition. Yan ang ginagawa ng gobyerno (That’s what the government is doing),” he said.
Royeca said there is no rationale behind the policy of deducting riders from one operator and then adding them to another. “We are already running (safely). There’s no point to lower the cap to give way for other players,” he explained.
Angkas called on Congress to investigate the policy of the LTFRB. Royeca said the interagency body shut out the participation of Congress and other stakeholders.
“They want to rush these other players in three months? I say again, hindi po ito monopoliya (this is not a monopoly). We welcome competition, but at the expense of the riding public, hindi po regulasyon ang ginagawa dito, corruption ang nangyayari (this is not regulating, but corruption),” Royeca declared.
“More than the timing, walang session ang (there’s no session in) Congress. Bakit merong (Why is there a) secret meeting? Bakit nag-evaluate ang LTFRB mag-isa sa new players (Why did LTFRB evaluate new players on its own?)” he asked.
Royeca maintained that Angkas would comply with the ruling, but will exhaust legal remedies to defend its position.
Meanwhile, Gardiola said Angkas is “overreacting,” saying that the TWC in fact increased the cap from 27,000 to 39,000.
“You are overreacting kasi mababawasan ang riders nyo (because your riders will be lessened) who now (have) the option to choose from among two additional providers for the interest of a fair and objective study,” Gardiola said in a statement.
“It only appears… you are not interested on the study rather you are focused kung ano kikitain nyo sa pag aaral na ito (on what you will earn after this study). Please stop deceiving your riders and their families. You are only after your business. Always (bear) in mind that this is still a study,” he added.
In a press conference, Gardiola said that they will move for the gradual implementation of the 10,000 rider cap for motorcycle taxis up to the first week of January “in the spirit of Christmas.”
He said that the gradual transition for the 10,000 cap is in consideration of the riders of Angkas. If the two new players cannot reach the cap by first week January, the TWG is open to allowing Angkas to onboard the remaining riders.
Under the new policy, the pilot run would be extended for three months or until March next year. – Romina Cabrera