By Vanne Elaine Terrazola
Senator Aquilino “Koko” Pimentel III on Saturday hit Angkas for the smear campaign supposedly launched against him after endorsing motorcycle-hailing company JoyRide for the pilot run of motorcycle taxi services.
In an interview over radio DWIZ Saturday afternoon, Pimentel claimed that there has been an “all-out” negative campaign against him since it was revealed that he endorsed to the Department of Transportation (DOTr) the application of JoyRide to participate in the initial pilot testing program for motorcycle taxi services.
He repeated his Friday statement that his endorsement of JoyRide in September 2019 was meant to prevent the monopoly of Angkas and to make sure that the DOTr will come up with realistic findings on the pilot run of motorcycle taxis. He stressed that monopolies are prohibited.
“Ewan ko kung bakit, nakikita ko ‘yong all-out yong paggastos dito ng negative campaign tungol sa akin. ‘Di ko maintindihan kung bakit kasi hindi naman mababago ang rules (I do not know why, but I see an all-out spending here for a negative campaign against me. I do not understand why they are doing this because they cannot change the rules),” Pimentel said.
“Hindi ko maintaindihan bakit pinulitika nila. Hindi rin niyo makukuha ‘yon gusto niyo kung gusto niyo ay monopoly. Magkano ba ang ginastos nila d’yan (I could not understand why they are politicizing this issue. You will not get want you want if you really wanted a monopoly over motorcycle taxi services. How much are they spending for that),” he added.
While he did not specifically identify Angkas, Pimentel mentioned the ride-hailing firm’s objection to the government’s decision to cut down the number of its riders to 10,000 in favor of JoyRide and Move It which will join the extended pilot implementation.
He described the uproar as a “danger of monopolistic power”, adding, “Kasi isipinin mo nilabanan lang galit na galit na (Because you see, they are now very angry that they are being challenged by new competitors).”
Pimentel maintained that there is nothing wrong with his endorsement of JoyRide, pointing out that “a senator’s office is a political office” and that they often receive similar requests and sometimes, complaints.
He said he is also open to endorsing other ride-hailing companies to promote competition in the motorcycle taxi service industry.
Despite admitting that they sought for Pimentel’s recommendation, JoyRide officials have denied benefitting from the backing of politicians in being allowed to join the extended pilot run of motorcycle taxis.
JoyRide’s Business Development Advisor Edwin Rodriguez is affiliated with the administration party Partido Demokratiko ng Pilipinas-Lakas ng Bayan (PDP-Laban), which Pimentel leads.
PDP-Laban spokesman Ron Munsayac, last December 24, said Rodriguez “never approached” the party or its leaders about JoyRide.