By Vanne Elaine Terrazola
Senator Aquilino “Koko” Pimentel on Thursday clarified that he is not going after the operations of Angkas in his appeals against its Singaporean chief executive officer Angeline Tham.
In a text message, Pimentel said his Senate Resolution No. 286 focuses only on Tham and “how she behaved” as an owner of the motorcycle-hailing company.
“Angkas will not be affected as an entity. The focus only is the foreign national and how she behaved as 99 percent business owner of Angkas. How many laws were violated by this foreign national?” he said. “Hence this cannot be in favor of anybody but the need for the foreigner to now account for her actions.”
Pimentel filed last Jan. 16 the resolution calling on the Senate to investigate Tham’s stakes in Angkas, which he said violates the Philippine Constitution’s restriction on the foreign ownership of businesses.
He also urged the chamber to declare Tham persona non grata in the country for her supposed arrogance and “bullying behavior” against the government, citing the protests of Angkas riders and statements made by its officials, among others, during the pilot testing program for motorcycle taxi services.
Last Jan. 8, Angkas chief transport advocate George Royeca said they have already settled the foreign ownership issue and that he now owns 60 percent of the company.
On Wednesday (Jan. 22), Angkas announced it will drop the charges it filed in courts against the government after the inter-agency technical working group monitoring the motorcycle taxi pilot run decided to increase its rider cap and expand their operations in Cagayan de Oro.
Meanwhile, Pimentel maintained that he has no links with JoyRide, a competitor of Angkas that joined the extended pilot run of motorcycles-for-hire.
He also denied allegations that JoyRide’s president Neil Sherwin Yu is related to his wife, Kathryna Yu-Pimentel. “That’s the critics’ logic even if the two do not know each other at all. I don’t even personally know the first Yu.”
Pimentel had admitted recommending to the Department of Transportation last year the application of JoyRide in the pilot run for motorcycle taxis. His move was questioned because of the affiliation of Joyride’s business development advisor Edwin Rodriguez with the Partido Demokratiko ng Pilipinas-Lakas ng Bayan (PDP-Laban) chaired by President Duterte.
Pimentel is PDP-Laban national president, while Rodriguez is currently a secretary-general for Quezon City.
Despite endorsing JoyRide’s application in the pilot run last year, Pimentel said he might oppose proposals to legalize motorcycle taxi operations. “I might even vote against the legalization of motorcycle taxis due to safety concerns, hence I do not have bias in favor of any current operator.”
The DOTr is currently conducting a pilot study on motorcycle taxis to help Congress craft a law on the regulation of such operations.