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Foreign firm owns Angkas

Maria Romero

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Joyriders With Angkas facing trouble, for blatant violation of laws, applicants to rival motorcycle taxi service Joyride continued to swell at Liwasang Bonifacio in Lawton, Manila. BOB DUNGO JR.

Angkas, the pioneering motorcycle taxi service in the country, allegedly committed blatant violations of the Philippine laws — most notable of which is the company being almost fully-owned by a foreign firm, which may cause its closure.

This was disclosed by the Department of Transportation’s (DoTr) Inter-Agency Motorcycle Taxi Technical Working Group (TWG) over the weekend as it slammed a supposed commuter advocacy group — the Lawyers for Commuter Safety and Protection (LCSP), which the agency accused of working for Angkas.

The DoTr-TWG said Angkas is 99.96 percent foreign-owned, a clear violation of the law which requires 60 percent local ownership of businesses operating in the country.

Angkas has also been conducting business outside of the designated pilot run areas, still illegal under existing laws.

Angkas is also accused of various safety breaches like non-use of helmets and vests by passengers, use of unauthorized safety gear, and continuous collection of surge fees disallowed under the new guidelines.

“In a blatant display of defiance and arrogance, note how Angkas or DBDOYC (its registered corporate name) did not disclose to the riding public that it is a 99 percent foreign-owned corporation, and is operating contrary to existing Philippine laws that common carriers should be at least 60 percent owned by Filipinos,” the DoTr-TWG said.

“Records from the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) would show that Angkas is 99.996 percent owned by Angeline Xiwen Tham, a Singaporean, with P9.8 million in subscribed shares. Tham is also listed at the SEC as the president of the corporation,” it added.

The DoTr-TWG noted how LCSP, in a recent press conference, missed these violations of Angkas while claiming to be taking the cudgels for the other transport network companies.

“Curiously, why didn’t the LCSP take up the issue of Angkas and its serious violations and transgressions in the press conference, which reveals how it has been treating the MC Taxi Service Pilot Run as its own business feasibility study?” the DoTr-TWG asked.

The agency reminded Angkas that its operation is still under pilot study phase.

“It bears repeating and emphasizing, that Angkas is merely operating on the basis of the motorcycle taxi pilot study, a privilege being accorded by the TWG, notwithstanding the legal issues hounding Angkas and its attempt to circumvent existing transport laws, to carry out its business,” it stated.

The DoTr-TWG maintained that it is unfazed by possible legal charges to be filed by the LCSP.

It stressed the inter-agency body will “not be deterred by threats of lawsuits and charges of corruption” as continue to carry out its mandate to ensure that only the interest of the public will be served.

“It is therefore unfortunate but necessary that we, at the TWG, are compelled to confront this brazen attempt by Angkas to distort the narrative, using the LCSP as a deflection to destroy the credibility of the TWG, and sway public opinion,” it added.

Moreover, the TWG also expressed full support on the “corruption-free” leadership of Antonio Gardiola Jr., who currently stands as Board Member of the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB).

“We have unwavering faith and confidence in retired Police Major General Antonio Gardiola Jr., as chairman of the TWG, given his extensive experience and background with motorcycles, and in the enforcement of laws as previous head of the PNP Highway Patrol Group, the Inter-Agency Council for Traffic and as board member of the LTFRB,” the statement read.

Last Friday, LCSP raised an issue anew alleging that the ongoing motorcycle taxi service pilot implementation run might involve “serious irregularities” and “corruption.” It also accused the DoTr-TWG of acting without necessary authority.

Last 18 December 2019, the DoTr-TWG extended the six-month pilot run of motorcycle ride-hailing operations for another three months to welcome two new players — JoyRide and Move It.

The pilot run involving motorcycle taxi pioneer Angkas was supposed to end on 26 December 2019. But the body decided to extend the run up to 23 March 2020.

From the original 27,000 rider cap, pioneer Angkas was forced to downsize its fleet to 17,000 as the TWG only allotted an overall cap of 39,000 registered bikers for the three players —10,000 bikers per TNC for Metro Manila and 3,000 bikers for Metro Cebu operations.

The pilot run was approved in aid of legislation by Congress to evaluate pending bills to legalize the operation of motorcycles as public utility vehicles.

“There is nothing irregular in the way the TWG is doing its business as far as the extended study is concerned,” the DoTr-TWG stressed
“In fact, the TWG has the full weight of authority granted by the government, for it to oversee the MC Taxi Service Pilot Implementation Run, under a Special Order issued last 19 December 2019,” it added.

In linking LCSP to Angkas, the DoTr-TWG noted that the LCSP press conference on Friday was arranged by Geiser-Maclang, the same public relations agency that also handles Angkas.

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