MC Taxi TWG to LCSP: Nothing Irregular with Study
The Inter-Agency technical working group (TWG) on Motorcycle Taxi over the weekend remained unfazed on possible legal charges to be thrown by a commuters advocacy group.
On a press statement Saturday, the TWG expressed support on the leadership of Antonio Gardiola Jr., who also stand 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 (HPG), the Inter-Agency Council for Traffic (I-ACT), and as board member of the LTFRB," they said.
"And, the TWG will not be deterred by threats of lawsuits and charges of corruption. It will continue to discharge its function as mandated by the government, and ensure that the only interest it will uphold and serve is Public Interest," it added.
The group is referring to the issue raised by the Lawyers for Commuter Safety and Protection (LCSP) Friday, alleging that there are irregularities in the conduct of the Motorcycle Taxi Service Pilot Implementation Run.
The TWG said in their statement that the endorsement of Senator Koko Pimentel on behalf of Joyride to participate in the study "is a matter of public record, and, as clearly proven in the sequence of events and timeline, has no bearing on the TWG’s decision-making process and development of the MC Taxi Service Pilot Implementation Run.
The TWG cited that Pimentel admitted that the initial run of the pilot study ended in December 2019 without the participation of JoyRide.
In the same statement, Pimentel added that what had prompted him to send his endorsement letter to the Department kf Transportation (DoTr) was the realization that should motorcycle taxis become legal, the pilot run must not only involve Angkas as the single service provider.
"Let it be clear that with or without any endorsement letter, the TWG has been fairly dealing with how best to make the MC Taxi Service Pilot Run reflective of the needs of the commuter, and how it can be a transformational public transportation alternative," the inter-agency group explained.
" In line with these, the TWG has exerted efforts to determine the capacity of motorcycle taxi transport network companies (TNCs) which expressed interest in joining the extended pilot study after the initial run ended last December 26," it noted.
Further, the TWG claimed that all all interested motorcycle taxi TNCs are subjected to a strict inspection and deliberation process. "The interested TNCs were evaluated based on their level of preparation to join the study, the readiness of their respective apps, the competency of their riders, the safety standards of their equipment and riding system, and their respective training facilities, among others."
"We, therefore, find it deplorable that the LCSP would resort to a politically-motivated deflection of the real issue confronting the program, and will even drag a senator into the fray," the group said.
Aside from that, the TWG said that there are also certain senators who are supporting Angkas' cause.
" But, it also behoves Angkas to explain why there are certain senators who are taking up the cudgels for them. Should they be imputed with influence-peddling and favoring Angkas as well?"
Moreover, the TWG questioned that LCSP cause as it failed to take up the issue of Angkas and its serious violations and transgressions in the press conference.
The TWG cited the following issues:
1. Angkas has been conducting its business even outside of the designated Pilot Run areas, which is considered illegal under existing laws.
2. Angkas has been cited with various safety breach like non-wearing of helmets and vests by its passengers, plus allowing the use of unauthorized safety gear. These are all well-documented and even publicized in social media platforms.
3. Angkas continues to adopt and collect surge fees which were already disallowed under the new guidelines.
4. And 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% foreign-owned corporation, and is operating contrary to existing Philippine laws that common carriers should be at least 60% owned by Filipinos.
The TWG also cited that per records from the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), 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.
" Angkas, using the LSCP, is trying to paint a picture that the TWG is involved in corruption in the conduct of the extended study on the viability and safety of motorcycle as taxis, citing vague allegations of “serious irregularities” in the selection of new participants, " they further claimed.
Moreover, the group emphasized that there is nothing irregular with how the TWG conducting its study.
Furthermore, the TWG said that they have "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 December 19, 2019 duly signed by DOTr Secretary Arthur Tugade."
"The issuance of this SO is clear proof which debunks the unfounded accusation of LCSP that members of the TWG are acting without the necessary authority. The said SO has the pertinent provisions containing the designation of point persons in the TWG, its mandate to run the Pilot Implementation of the MC Taxi Service, the authority to introduce/revise guidelines, and even hire a consultant as may be required."