“Let’s collaborate. Let’s not destroy our relationships.”
This was the straightforward appeal of George Royeca, Angkas’ chief transport advocate, to the thousands of displaced riders of the motorcycle-taxi company now left in a perturbing situation because of the COVID-19 crisis.
As the self-proclaimed ‘chief kagulong’ of some 17,000 riders plying not only Metro Manila but also Cebu City and Cagayan de Oro, Royeca feels he has a big responsibility to his flock, especially now that the government’s enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) policy has been extended until April 30. Obviously, he wants them to cooperate and always uphold the law.
“I know many of you are losing hope, but instead of expecting from others, we need to expect from ourselves because our families depend on us and have no one else to expect from but only us,” he added.
Ever since the government stopped the operation of motorcycle taxis in Luzon as part of the ECQ, Angkas has mobilized a team to distribute rice and other relief goods to its beleaguered members to help them cope with the situation. A big chunk of the relief items came from the coffers of Angkas management, while some kindhearted entities sent donations to help alleviate the plight of the riders.
But the supply of relief assistance fell short, and the riders, a majority of whom are daily wage earners, are reportedly experiencing anxiety attack when they think of how they and their families will survive.
Some Angkas riders have shifted to the company’s temporary food-delivery service, but inconsistencies in the implementation of the ECQ at police checkpoints has caused confusion and fear, prompting many of them to throw in the towel. This is in spite of the company’s decision not to take a cut from the deliveries fees.
“Even if 99% of the business is gone overnight, the operation continues to earn for the biker. The employees of Angkas still work just for the bikers even if the company’s commission is zero,” Royeca emphasized.
Angkas now has no recourse but to seek help from the government. A member of the Senate has endorsed Angkas to the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DWSD) and later, the Department of Transportation (DOTr) and the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB), for possible assistance.
Royeca said the DSWD will course the appeal for relief assistance to the technical working group (TWG) of the DOTr, which currently holds the official list of accredited Angkas riders.
“Wag po tayong mag-isip ng mali. Ituwid po natin ang pag-iisip nating lahat,” Royeca reminded the riders.