House panel tells DOTr to legitimize motorcycles-for-hire

Published January 15, 2019, 9:10 AM

by Patrick Garcia

By Ellson Quismorio

The House Committee on Metro Manila Development led by Rep. Winston Castelo (2nd district, Quezon City) has tasked the Department of Transportation (DOTr) to legitimize so-called “motorcycles-for-hire.”

Winston “Winnie” Castelo (Facebook/ MANILA BULLETIN)
Winston “Winnie” Castelo (Facebook/ MANILA BULLETIN)

Castelo, during a hearing of his committee Monday afternoon, reckoned that the agency could give motorcycles for hire like those under the popular ride-hailing app “Angkas” the same treatment that it gave to Transport Network Vehicle Services (TNVS) like Grab so they may continue to operate. This, despite a pending case against Angkas before the Supreme Court (SC).

“The Committee is directed to draft the resolution for immediate compliance by the DOTr,” Castelo said.

The panel earlier adopted a manifestation urging the transport agency to grant Angkas “pilot test run” status all over the country with no prejudice to the pending SC case.

According to Castelo, this recourse would give the quickest relief for Filipino commuters given the ever-worsening traffic situation in the country.

“There are pending bills filed in Congress now that would legalize motorcycles for hire, like Angkas. But, this would take a lot of time because of the long legislative process. There are other ways to legalize it, to expedite its operations especially now that we are suffering from traffic congestion,” he said.

Angkas voluntarily suspended its operations in 2017 after being outlawed by the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB). The Mandaluyong City Regional Trial Court (RTC) issued in September 2018 a preliminary injunction allowing the motorcycle ride-hailing service to resume its operations.

Last December 8, the SC handed down a temporary restraining order (TRO) on the RTC’s preliminary injunction.

Republic Act (RA) No. 4136 or the Land Transportation and Traffic Code specifically prohibits motorcycles from use as “for hire” vehicles. With this, DOTr Secretary Arthur Tugade ordered the LTFRB to apprehend Angkas bikers who continue to ferry commuters amid the High Court’s order.

“If they cannot provide efficient and reliable mass transportation system as they are mandated to do, they should at least be creative and use modern technology,” Castelo said of the DOTr.

“We should not be technical and legalistic on this while millions of Filipinos are suffering from traffic and P2 billion in lost opportunities,” he pointed out.

There are reportedly 25,000 Angkas bikers who have lost their livelihood as a result of the TRO. Angkas representative George Royeca told the panel that part-time Angkas drivers typically earn P800 a day, while full-timers take home an average of P1,500.

Regarding allegations that motorcycles-for-hire are accident-prone, Royeca said that Angkas has a safety record of 99.99 percent over the past year and a half.