Angkas refuses to pick 'fight' with regulators, explains ownership

Jessica Fenol, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jan 08 2020 12:00 PM | Updated as of Jan 08 2020 01:47 PM

Thousands of bikers belonging to the motorcycle ride hailing service Angkas hold a protest at the Edsa Shrine in Quezon City on December 22, 2019. Jire Carreon, ABS-CBN News

MANILA -- Angkas said Wednesday limiting the participants in the pilot run for motorcycle taxis risks reducing supply, as it urged government not to view its opposition to the cap as "picking a fight."

The ride-hailing platform also said it was 60-percent held by Filipinos. The Department of Transportation earlier said Angkas' parent was 99.9-percent Singaporean owned, in violation of the constitutional cap on foreign ownership of business at 40 percent.

The driver limit, set at 10,000 riders for Angkas and rivals Move It and JoyRide, is the "only thing" in the pilot run that Angkas opposes, said its chief transport advocate, George Royeca.

The cap was implemented in January, until the end of the extended pilot run in March. During the initial test that ended in December, Angkas was the lone participant with 27,000 riders.

A Mandaluyong court on Monday issued a 72-hour temporary restraining order (TRO) against the implementation of the rider cap. 

"If you lower the cap then the supply significantly goes lower," Royeca told reporters, adding that most of its riders are part-timers. 

"I would also like to clarify that we are not picking a fight with government regulators. I want to make it clear that the cap is the only thing we don’t agree with," he added. 

Royeca said he held 60 percent of Angkas, which "rectified" the foreign ownership issue. Five others hold the remaining 40 percent, including Singaporean ex-Grab executive Angeline Tham.

It may take sometime before official records reflect the changes in Angkas' shareholder structure, Royeca said, citing operational "lag."

Based on Securities and Exchange Commission filings, Tham owns 99.99 percent of Angkas parent DBDOYC Inc, Transportation Assistant Secretary Bert Suansing told ANC.

Ownership is not part of the pilot run guidelines and should be discussed "in the eventual passage of the law" that will govern motor taxis, he said.

The technical working group tasked to oversee the pilot run on motorcycle taxis earlier accused Angkas of “blatantly” violating the guidelines by operating outside Metro Manila and Metro Cebu. 

Angkas is "focused" on the pilot area and that operations in General Santos and Cagayan De Oro have been suspended, Royeca said. However, riders are still engaged in logistics service since there are no restrictions.

Angkas said it would continue "collaborating" with government agencies to provide valuable data that could help craft a law on motorcycle taxis.