MANILA -- (UPDATE) Ride-hailing firm Angkas on Sunday cried foul over transport regulator's ruling to limit its drivers to 10,000 from 27,000.
An inter-agency body conducting a study on the safety of motorcycle taxis as a mode of transportation said it slashed Angkas' numbers in order to include riders from two other firms, Move-It and Joy Ride.
George Royeca, Angkas’ chief transport advocate, said the inter-agency body took out the participation of lawmakers and other stakeholders.
“They want to rush these other players in 3 months? I say again, hindi po ito monopoliya, we welcome competition, but at the expense of the riding public, hindi po regulasyon ang ginagawa dito, corruption ang nangyayari," he told reporters.
Angkas head of operations David Medrana questioned the inter-agency body's process to reach the decision.
“It took us 3 years, it took them less than a month. Ano meron sila at alam nila at galing nila para magawa 'yun? Pinapatunayan ng Angkas na kaya nila maging safe. Anong klaseng standard ang ine-expect ng LTFRB sa bagong fleet?” he said.
Various groups have also expressed dismay over the ruling of the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB).
“For lack of a better term, it is inhumane, to say the least. In regard to your reason of monopoly, you have accredited 66,000 Grab cars with CPCs (certificate of tax clearance) out on the streets. Huwag kami,” Motorcycle Rights Organization's Jobert Bolanos said.
“Safety is the paramount reason for the pilot testing, it's called in aid of legislation. This is not the competition, it will be after the legislation. Nagkataon na isa lang ang player (noon); if they were there, maaaring nakasama sila,” said Ariel Inton, representative of Lawyers for Commuters' Safety and Protection.
Labor group Partido Manggagawa urged LTFRB to withdraw its decision.
"Fostering competition in the motorcycle taxi sector is good but it should not lead to massive dislocation of riders. These Angkas riders already went through months of training and practical experience in plying motorcycle taxis only for them to end up jobless due to an LTFRB decision," it said.
The groups fear that the transport regulator's move will only give way to colorum motorcycle riders.
“Nag-aayos po kami, kaya sumama sa Angkas. (Ngayon) mag-u-underground kami. 'Yun ang reality, dun kami galing sa ilegal. Happy kami sa Angkas, pero kung ipipilit ng gobyerno, mag-iisip kami ng alternatibong paraan para kumita kami ng sarili namin,” Manila rider Romeo Maglunsod said.
Angkas will comply with the ruling but will also exhaust legal remedies to defend their position, Royeca said.
It is set to submit its 10,000 names of riders on Monday, but the selection process on the downsize remains unclear, he added.
Angkas will extend assistance and protection to all its riders, according to Royeca.
Several lawmakers have also joined public clamor to save the jobs of the 17,000 Angkas riders ahead of Christmas.
"The Grinches in LTFRB just stole the cheers of Christmas from thousands of Angkas drivers who would be jobless come 2020," Bayan Muna Rep. Ferdinand Gaite said in a statement.
"Not only is this move indifferent to the bikers, it is also callous towards commuters that are already burdened by the transport crisis," he added.