At Angkas event, Grace Poe promises to fast-track legalizing motorcycle taxis

MANILA, Philippines – In a sea of riders, reelectionist Senator Grace Poe promised to "hasten" the passage of a bill that would allow hiring motorcycles for transport.

At the Angkas "Safety Fiesta" event on Saturday, March 4, George Royeca, spokesperson and head of regulatory and public affairs, said Poe has always been the "champion" of the riding community.

"Alam ko nakasalalay ang inyong hanapbuhay dito sa prangkisa sa Senado. Alam ba ninyo na isa ako sa mga pinakamabilis magtrabaho ng prangkisa sa Senado? Ang akin lang, sinisiguro ay ligtas ang ating mga kababayan at pati kayo," Poe said.

(I know that your livelihood depends on the franchise approval at the Senate. Do you know that I'm the fastest in terms of getting franchise approved in the Senate? For me, what's important is the safety of the public and you too.)

If given the chance to head the public services committee again, Poe said she would lobby for the passage of a bill that would give the public the opportunity to choose whichever transport options there are.

"Binibilisan ko, pinag-aaralan ko, para ang prangkisa na maghahatid ng mas maganda, mas mabilis, at mas affordable na transportation sa lahat, at pagkakakitaan ninyong lahat sa ligtas na paraan, ay maipasa na," Poe said,

(I will work faster and study more about it so that the franchise that would bring better, faster, and more affordable transportation for everyone that would be a source of income which is safe would be passed.)

Poe headed the Senate committee on public services in the 17th Congress and handled transportation issues, particularly Angkas regulation.

Earlier this year, Poe called on the Department of Transportation to hasten its efforts in regulating Angkas and habal-habal (motorcycle taxis) operations. Poe urged DOTr to issue a department order that would allow such.

But the transportation department had long argued that Angkas and habal-habal are illegal, because the Land Transportation and Traffic Code prohibits the use of motorcycles as public transport. (READ: Why Angkas is illegal)

On Saturday, senatorial bets Bam Aquino, JV Ejercito, Chel Diokno, and retired general Ronald dela Rosa also courted the motorcycle drivers at the event. 

Diokno said that the would be pushing for a magna carta for riders, if elected, while Aquino said that legislation needs to catch up with the ride-sharing economy.

Quezon City 2nd district Representative Winston Castelo, another champion of Angkas at the House, also attended the event. His wife, Precious, was with him as well, She is currently running for the legislative district post.

Royeca said Saturday's event was not a political rally and that Angkas is "not endorsing anyone." But he said that the event was a "safe and open platform" for candidates to talk about their bid.

Angkas has gained popularity from the commuting public as a "cheap and fast" transport service. But its operations faced legal hurdles when the LTFRB first ordered it closed in November 2017.

A Mandaluyong court allowed Angkas to hit the streets again in September 2018, but this short-lived victory was struck down by a Supreme Court temporary restraining order that allowed law enforcers to apprehend Angkas bikers if they continued to operate.

Aside from the legal hurdle, transportation officials and advocates have long expressed concerns over the safety of passengers boarding motorcycles. (READ: Habal-habal: Understanding the true cost of a cheap ride – Rappler.com

Aika Rey

Aika Rey covers the Philippine Senate for Rappler. Before writing about politicians, she covered budget, labor, and transportation issues.

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