House panel backs legalization of Angkas, motorcycle taxis

Ina Reformina, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jan 14 2019 09:57 PM

Angkas drivers hold a protest motorcade on EDSA to call for the legalization of motorcycle ride-sharing services, Dec 16, 2018. Kevin Manalo, ABS-CBN File photo

MANILA - Advocates for the legalization of motorcycle ride-sharing services scored a victory at the House of Representatives on Monday after a House panel backed calls to allow these services to operate. 

The House Committee on Metro Manila Development urged the Department of Transportation (DOTr) to come up with a department order to regulate motorcycle ride-sharing services like Angkas, while waiting for the amendment of the law defining vehicles suitable for public transport. 

"If we were lenient and positive, pro-active sa private vehicles, particularly on Grab and Uber, and we allowed that in a department order, I think we can also grant motorcycles for hire," said Rep. Winston Castelo, chairman of the House panel. 

Lawmakers reasoned that there was an urgent need to address the concerns of commuters who have been relying on services like Angkas for public transport. 

The DOTr, meanwhile, said that it has already formed a technical working group to study the legalization of motorcycle transport services. 

Allowing Angkas to operate, however, faces a legal obstacle as Republic Act 4136 states that "private motorcycles, scooters, or motor wheel attachments... shall not be used for hire under any circumstances and shall not be used to solicit, accept, or be used to transport passengers or freight for pay."

Guidelines will also need to be set on these services. 

"Will we allow motorcycle taxis without fare matrix? Who will be the regulatory authority to issue franchises? LTFRB [Land Transportation Franchising Regulatory Board] or LGU [Local Government Unit]? What will be the capacity?" said Transportation Undersecretary Mark De Leon. 

The DOTr also raised concerns about safety and accountability of drivers and vehicle owners in case of an accident. 

Commuters group Komyut, meanwhile, also backed calls to legalize Angkas and similar services. 

"Please listen to us, sir. Kase po kame, iligal yan o legal, sasakay kami kasi kailangan talaga namin," said Komyut member Rebecca Padilla. 

Angkas head for regulatory and public affairs, George Royeca, said their accredited riders go through intensive safety training and that their accident rate is a mere .003 percent.

The company asked the Supreme Court late last month to lift the temporary restraining order it issued in early December which allowed transport authorities to apprehend its riders.