Congressman Edgar Sarmiento, chairman of the House Committee on Transportation, has spoken up about the burning issue surrounding the pilot-run extension for motorcycle-taxi companies Angkas, JoyRide, and Move It.
“Gumulo lang ang lahat nang mag-desisyon ang Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) na i-extend ng tatlong buwan ang pilot run,” Sarmiento said in a DZBB radio interview.
On Friday, December 27, the lawmaker wrote a letter to the technical working group (TWG) formed by the Department of Transportation (DOTr) to oversee and monitor the experimental scheme. Sarmiento is requiring the TWG, which is now under the leadership of retired P/Maj. Gen. Antonio Gardiola Jr., to submit its findings on the pilot run’s initial six-month period, which began in June 2019 and ended on December 26, 2019.
Sarmiento also asked the body to provide their basis for extending the program for another three months and including two new players in the second wave.
During the interview, Sarmiento sounded very disappointed about the TWG’s latest move, which had triggered outraged among netizens on social media. He cited seven issues that the DOTr-TWG had apparently failed to address:
- The two new players—JoyRide and Move It—should have been required to submit themselves to the process before they were allowed to join the pilot run.
- There should be a valid reason behind the TWG’s requirement for Angkas to downsize its 27,000-strong rider network to just 10,000 riders in Metro Manila and 3,000 riders in Metro Cebu. “Bakit mo ibababa ang numero ng isa tapos ibibigay mo sa dalawa? Hindi dapat overnight na papayagan ang aplikante [na] tumakbo kung ang pakay mo talaga ay safety,” Sarmiento stressed.
- The DOTr-TWG has allegedly failed to submit a report on the initial six-month pilot run accorded to Angkas. This would have been a major factor in deciding whether to extend the program or not.
- The DOTr-TWG did not do anything to control the recruitment activities of Angkas during the early days of the pilot run, which explains why the company’s rider network had ballooned to 27,000. “Dapat sinabi niyo noong una pa sa Angkas: ‘Tama na po ang numero niyo,’” he reasoned.
- No records have been submitted to Congress proving that JoyRide and Move It have passed the regulations set by the DOTr-TWG when it comes to training, recruitment, and, most important, safety standards.
- If the DOTr-TWG’s decision to allow JoyRide and Move It to join the pilot run was to break the monopoly of Angkas, they should have done it several months ago to establish fair competition and obtain a comparative basis on the companies’ performance and service standards: “Noong una pa lang, dapat pinayagan na nila ang ibang players to come in.”
- Above all, the DOTr-TWG must consider of the welfare of commuters who are suffering due to an acute shortage of public transportation. “Isipin natin ang kapakanan ng mamamayan,” he said. “Habang andyan na, ibigay muna natin sa kanila. Huwag nating baguhin ang landscape.”
Sarmiento said has not given up hope that these issues will be straightened out. He also vowed to prioritize the passage of a bill to legalize motorcycle taxis in the forthcoming sessions. In the meantime, he called for a ceasefire on the ongoing word war between the stakeholders and the government agencies involved in the pilot run.
In the spirit of the holidays, do you think they will shut up? Place your bet, guys!