By Hannah Torregoza
Members of a Senate panel have called on transportation officials to consider granting the motorcycle-riding application ‘Angkas’ provisional authority while lawmakers craft amendments to the law that bars the use of motorcycle, scooters and other similar types of vehicles to transport passengers.
Senate President Pro Tempore Ralph Recto offered this suggestion to the Department of Transportation (DOTr), the Land Transportation Franchise and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) and other transportation regulatory bodies as they sought to resolve the issue of ‘Angkas’ alleged illegal operations.
“Why not try giving them provisional authority? And then let’s see, because by not allowing it to happen, it will still continue, but there’s going to be corruption still,” Recto said during Wednesday’s hearing of the Senate public services committee.
Recto said he believes the DOTr can issue a similar order it gave to Grab and Uber, noting millions of passengers depend on ‘Angkas’ being much affordable and faster.
“It is also possible that you can do this by regulation and not by law just they did for Uber and Grab. Through regulation, Department Order would do, because the law says private vehicles (are also not allowed) and then they made an exception through a regulation. So they can do the same for ‘Angkas’ or anyone in the motorcycle industry,” Recto said.
While Angkas’ operations are still in limbo, Recto noted that many motorcycles have been transporting passengers right under the nose of the government agencies despite the ban imposed under Republic Act 4136 or the Land Transportation and Traffic Code.
“Better to regulate it than not regulate it at all. Today you have millions of passengers. (It is) unregulated walang (there is no) safety, no nothing,” Recto said.
“Better to legalize it and regulate it properly so that the passengers are all safe, they will have insurance. It is also possible that you do this by regulation and not by law just like what they did with Uber and Grab,” Recto said.
Recto pointed out that the use of motorcycles as a transport network vehicle service (TNVS) is fast becoming an alternative transportation option that even neighboring countries in the Southeast Asia has decided to adopt.
“This is not new, you have this in Indonesia and many other countries. The problem is the market is fast, but the government’s action is slow,” he noted.
Apart from ‘Angkas,’ the Senate is also scrutinizing the operations of ‘Habal-habal’—a motorcycle modified to allow more than two to four passengers—which is also seeking a permit to fully and legally operate admitting they have to hide behind social media platforms to carry out their operations.
Senator Grace Poe, chair of the Senate public services panel, also agreed it is high time lawmakers amend the 55-year-old transportation and traffic code which prohibits the use of motorcycle for public transportation.
Poe said doing so would allow the government to help provide the public access to cheaper transportation alternatives, while at the same time, exact responsibility on motorcycle TNVS operators who must ensure that its partner drivers are well-trained to prevent accidents.
“The reason why this motorcycle-riding app is appealing to the riders is because they can go to many spaces but sometimes they do not respect the spaces of other drivers in the streets. They would go in between and scissor in front of other drivers. So it’s also dangerous. They also cut through but they also have to be careful,” Poe noted.
Poe said her committee would recommend to the DOTR to come up with a department order for these motorcycle-riding apps to be able to operate legally.
“And we will definitely strengthen (the department order) by supplementing it with a law,” Poe said.
“And I think you have very good supporters here and we would see it regulated in a way, where we have standards to follow particularly when it comes to safety and the insurance and compensation for our passengers,” she stressed.