By Hannah Torregoza
Ahead of the Senate hearing on Monday, Senator Imelda “Imee” Marcos on Sunday criticized the Department of Transportation’s (DOTr) move to slash the number of drivers of one motorcycle taxi company participating in a pilot test.
Marcos said the DOTr should do away with such policy, pointing out that equal participation doesn’t necessarily mean fair competition.
The DOTr Technical Working Group (TWG) earlier allotted an equal number of drivers to ride-hailing companies ‘Angkas,’ ‘JoyRide’ and ‘MoveIt’ for the three-month extended test run that started this month—each to have 10,000 drivers in Metro Manila and 3,000 drivers in Metro Cebu.
A temporary restraining order (TRO) has put on hold the DOTr-TWG’s rule, but the court order expires at the end of the month and may leave 17,000 of 27,000 Angkas drivers out of work, while newcomers Joyride and MoveIt seek to add to the 6,900 and 2,400 drivers they already have, respectively, as of January 6.
“May dagdag-bawas na nangyayari. Para mukhang patas, binawasan ang mga experienced drivers ng isang kumpanya at baka sakaling mapilitan silang sumali na lang sa mga baguhan na kulang pa ng mga driver. Bakit kaya? (There’s a form of cheating happening here. To make it appear fair, they reduced the number of experienced drivers of one company to push them to join the newcomers that lack drivers. Why?)” Marcos said in a statement.
Marcos said the DOTr is positing that they are giving drivers freedom of choice on what company they wish to join, but that is not the case.
“Hindi (That is not) freedom of choice yung tatakutin mo yung mga drayber na mawawalan sila ng trabaho sa kanilang kumpanya kaya mag-apply na lang sila sa iba, (if you are threatening drivers they will lose their job from their company and force them to apply to another company),” Marcos pointed out.
Marcos reminded the DOTr it is Congress that will make the law to ensure fair competition and freedom of choice.
“Hindi na kailangang magpalusot ang DOTr na ang patas na bilang ay para sa (the DOTr does not need to come up with an excuse that this policy is to ensure) fair competition at freedom of choice, dahil Kongreso naman ang gagawa ng batas para siguruhin ang mga ito (because Congress will be the one to make the law and make sure such will be implemented),” she said.
Instead, she said the DOTr should find solutions to Metro Manila’s perennial traffic than target all experienced drivers of motorcycle taxis.
“Ang dapat siguruhin ng DOTr ay mabawasan ang perwisyo sa traffic, kaya mas mabuting isali na ang lahat ng mga drayber na may karanasan na sa trabaho, (I think the DOTr should set it sights on how to lessen the inconvenience traffic brings to commuters, so I hope they would just allow all experienced drivers to go back to their respective jobs),” she stressed.
The Senate public services, jointly with the local government committee, will hold another hearing on the issue on Monday (Jan. 20) as the Senate resumes regular sessions starting this week.
The hearing aims to tackle the different bills proposing to regulate the use of motorcycles as safe and as an alternative public utility vehicle (PUV).
Senators lamented that lawmakers were shut out from meetings held by the DOTr-TWG in November to December, even if the pilot test’s final goal is to aid legislation.
Sen. Grace Poe, chair of the public services committee, said the results of the pilot run will be an important guide for the committee in crafting the final version of the bill.
“Our ultimate goal is availability, safety and comfort for our riding public,” Poe explained.
“The long lines of commuters waiting for rides leave no doubt that we need alternative public utility vehicles. We hope this hearing will help find solutions to issues on safety, legality and other questions that need to be threshed out towards an efficient transport system as a whole,” Poe stressed.