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Unity for the interest of commuters

This is the time when we should all exercise following the movement of the rider — or in this case, the government as the proper authority.

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After over a month, the intense fracas between the Motorcycle Taxi Service Inter-Agency Technical Working Group (TWG) and Angkas — the initial participating player of the Pilot Study for Motorcycle Taxis — has finally ended in a surprising and remarkable act of unity.

Last week, the 20th and 22nd of January, deliberations were held both in the Senate and House of Representatives for the proposal to legalize the operation of motorcycle taxis in the country.

Outside the conference halls, groups of riders were forming a formidable wall, with people wearing sky blue motorcycle uniforms hoisting placards expressing “Legalize motorcycle taxis.”

As expected, all eyes and ears were on the heated discussions and the opinions thrown by the different parties and stakeholders — starting off with the lawmakers, road safety advocates, ride-hailing network participants, and other stakeholders. Although issues of violations committed by some of the participating riders were exposed in the hearings, the discussion turned out to be fruitful, productive and became an avenue for reconciliation for the contending parties.

I was moved by the statement of George Royeca, the chief rider advocate of Angkas, as he started his statement expressing that, despite the previous exchange of heated statements, which at some point made tempers flare from both sides, the TWG and Angkas, he said, are still one. Like any other family, there will come times of misunderstandings, but the family will always stick as one.

While this is true, it brought me back to that time when TWG chairman Antonio Gardiola Jr. was giving us a run-through on the safety guidelines that passengers must observe while riding a motorcycle.

This man, a former Bicol top police officer, served as former head of the Philippine National Police-Highway Patrol Group, and a rider himself, stressed that in order to avoid distractions and accidents, the passenger must follow the movement of the rider.

In silence and with full attention to his instructions, he went on to say that being a passenger, you must go with the flow. If the driver leans right, the passenger must also lean right. If the rider leans left, so should the passenger. The rider and passenger must not contradict each other. This safety practice, he said, keeps the motorcycle balance while driving.

This is what the government and other stakeholders must do to keep discussions on the legalization of motorcycle taxis balanced.

One should not negate or contradict each other in order to get to their desired destinations. We have to follow the rules and guidelines to avoid any misunderstandings that will hamper that smooth ride.

As the deliberations ended, so did some of the issues that threatened the end of the Pilot Study for the Motorcycle Taxis.

Considering the sentiments of lawmakers, the TWG immediately convened to thresh out the issues concerning the pilot implementation and had agreed to push through with the study.

Following a meeting with Department of Transportation (DoTr) Secretary Arthur Tugade, the TWG and representatives from the three motorcycle transport network companies (TNC) involved in the study, namely Angkas, Move It, and JoyRide, identified several agreements for the implementation of the Motorcycle Taxi Pilot Study, which continues until 23 March 2020.

First, the rider cap for the study will be increased to 63,000. The three TNC will each have 15,000 riders for their Metro Manila operations under the new cap; 9,000 for their operations in Metro Cebu; and an additional 9,000 for Cagayan de Oro City, the new coverage area for motorcycle taxi operations.

It was also agreed that should a TNC fails to fill-up its allotted number of riders under the cap, the other players can have the available slots.

Further, Angkas has agreed to drop all court cases it had filed against the TWG.

To recall, Angkas filed the cases against the TWG as it questioned the Revised Guidelines issued by the TWG, which limited the rider cap.

Angkas also committed to Secretary Tugade that it will be aiding victims of the Taal Volcano eruption as a form of penalty.

As Secretary Tugade had said, we should show the people that we can work together.

“We all come here to agree to stand together in a platform of unity, mutual support and cooperation for the interest of the riding public, as a manifestation of our full trust and confidence to the Duterte administration.

“We need to understand that if we go against each other, and if we do not cooperate, people who have malicious intentions and questionable agenda will be feasting on us. Let us show them that we can join hands — that we can cooperate and agree,” said the transportation chief.

This is the time when we should all exercise following the movement of the rider — or in this case, the government as the proper authority.

For us to get to our destination of having an organized, safe and reliable mass transportation system, our movements should always be in unison. It is in this way that we can attain cooperation, unity and mutual support for the interest of the riding public.

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