LTFRB: Up to Congress to legalize Angkas, habal-habal

MANILA, Philippines – The Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) said it's up to Congress to pass a measure legalizing ride-sharing on motorcycles.

On Tuesday, December 12, LTFRB held a dialogue with ride-sharing app Angkas and habal-habal drivers to hear the concerns of the sector.

LTFRB Board Member Aileen Lizada said issues discussed during the dialogue will be submitted to Congress, along with a proposal by the Angkas app management that the agency will receive within the week.

"We feel for you. That is why we requested the Office of Congressman Cesar Sarmiento to be here. Whatever will transpire here, we will give to the Committee on Transportation," Lizada told the drivers.

She added that what's happening with Angkas seemed like a "repetition" of the agency's experiences with Transportation Network Vehicle Service (TNVS) companies Grab and Uber. (READ: What's the fuss about the Grab, Uber regulation issue?)

"I told [Angkas], I thought we're done with Uber and Grab. This is a rewind of everything... What Uber and Grab started eventually became the government's problem," Lizada said in a mix of English and Filipino.

While in limbo, David Medrana of Angkas said they are providing financial assistance to some 15,000 drivers in Metro Manila and Cebu, equivalent to 60% of their earnings last October.

Lizada also said the Department of Labor and Employment will hold a job fair for the drivers and conduct sessions on the department's livelihood programs on Wednesday, December 13 at 8 am at the LTFRB Central Office in Quezon City.

While waiting for a policy measure to be passed in Congress, transportation officials will still apprehend Angkas and habal-habal drivers.

"The law was only given to us to implement. That's why we invited Congress here," said Lizada.

Traffic, road safety

Cebu City Mayor Tomas Osmeña attended the public dialogue on Tuesday and told the transportation officials that he supports Angkas. (READ: Why passengers and bikers think Angkas matters)

Osmeña said that the services offered by the app contributed in alleviating traffic in metropolitan Cebu. He added that the whole Angkas issue boils down to the issue of providing services to the public.

"I can tell you – public good is very different from what the government is doing... Who is the law supposed to serve? Unfortunately, it's creating a drama," Osmeña told Land Transportation Office  (LTO) and LTFRB.

The LTFRB also raised concerns over the safety of motorcycles on the road. (READ: Habal-habal: Understanding the true cost of a cheap ride)

According to government data, majority of vehicular crash incidents involve motorcycles. The Metro Manila Development Authority recorded a total of 21,403 incidents in 2016 – 203 of which resulted to death. (READ: IN NUMBERS: Road crash incidents in the Philippines)

For the part of Angkas, Medrana said they are committed to providing a safe alternative option to commuters. Angkas drivers who were present at the dialogue said they were trained prior to being allowed on the road.

"We put a regulation to improve something that they don't have. They don't have protection but we gave them that. Their lives were improved," Medrana said, referring to drivers who were previously habal-habal drivers prior to joining Angkas. "What they're missing out are the opportunities," he added.

Last November, the LTFRB ordered for the closure of Angkas, citing Republic Act 4136 or the Land Transportation and Traffic Code that mandates motorcycles can only be registered as private vehicles and not be used for hire. (READ: Why Angkas is illegal)– 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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