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Angkas tumbles at SC



Drivers of motorcycle ride-hailing app Angkas will now be apprehended by traffic sheriffs of the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) following a temporary restraining order (TRO) issued recently by the Supreme Court (SC).

The TRO issued by the SC Second Division last 5 December, a copy of which was received by the Department of Transportation (DoTr) yesterday, stopped the implementation of a lower court’s directive barring LTFRB from arresting Angkas drivers and interfering with Angkas’ operations.

The DoTr said yesterday that aside from apprehending Angkas drivers, the LTFRB will issue another directive ordering Angkas to stop operations pending the final resolution by the SC of its case.

The SC said it issued the injunctive relief in favor of LTFRB without prejudice or touching on the merits of the agency’s petition to declare Angkas to be a public transport company and, as such, should be subject to LTFRB’s regulatory authority.

The High Court gave Mandaluyong Judge Carlos Valenzuela and the operators of Angkas 10 days upon receiving the notice to comment on the petition of the LTFRB and its mother agency, the DoTr.

Valenzuela’s order issued last 20 August was used by Angkas as basis for operating beyond the regulatory authority of LTFRB.

“Now, therefore, effective immediately and continuing until further orders from this court, you (LTFRB), the respondent (Angkas), the Presiding Judge, Regional Trial Court Branch 213 Mandaluyong City, your representatives, all other persons acting on your behalf are hereby restrained from implementing the assailed RTC order dated 20 August 2018 in Civil Case R-MND-18-01453-SC,” the SC order said.

“(An) announcement would also address Angkas TNC (transport network company) and Angkas riders to cease and desist to avoid apprehension,” said Goddes Libiran, DoTr communications director.

Libiran added the LTFRB order may be out within the week.

The LTFRB shut down Angkas’ operations in November last year for allegedly violating Republic Act 4136, otherwise known as the Land Transportation and Traffic Code.

The agency maintained that the law does not allow private motorcycles to ferry passengers for a fee. The LTFRB franchises public utility vehicles. Thus, observers say a resolution may come in the form of Angkas seeking franchises for its drivers.

In November last year when the LTFRB apprehended 19 Angkas drivers and the City Government of Makati shut down its office in the city for lacking the necessary permit, Angkas appealed to DoTr Secretary Arthur Tugade to have LTFRB treat Angkas as a transport network vehicle service, same as Grab.

“On behalf of its bikers, Angkas has always been open to regulation. We believe that the motorcycle industry needs proper regulation to raise its standards of safety and quality,” Angkas said then in a statement. “We hope that this unregulated sector can be professionalized and imbued with safety standards and coverage similar to that of Transport Network Vehicle Services.”

Angkas has since then gone to court against LTFRB, scoring a win before the Mandaluyong RTC, prompting the regulatory agency to run to the SC.

Angkas’ business model was apparently derived from the habal-habal prevalent in the provinces in which motorcycle riders take on passengers for a fee.

The safety of passengers is a primary concern regarding Angkas and habal-habal operations, since the majority of vehicle crashes involved motorcycles, according to government data.

In 2016 alone, motorcycles were involved in 21,403 accidents, resulting in 203 deaths.

For riding a habal-habal to reach a DoTr affair on time at the height of the Angkas brouhaha, Tugade himself scolded Undersecretary for Road Transport and Infrastructure Thomas Orbos.