Level playing field for Angkas, Joy Ride and MoveIt-a must—SHARP EDGES by JAKE J. MADERAZO
After four years of government’s pilot study, the once illegal motorcycle taxi (habal-habal) has proven unquestionably that it is now a legitimate and preferred transportation service of daily commuters due to the perennial heavy urban traffic. They also provided jobs to the riders and improved the lives of their families as well.
However, the bills are pending since the Department of Transportation (DOTr) and the Land Traffic Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) are still in the middle of a motorcycle taxi industry pilot study that included three players Angkas, JoyRide, and MoveIt with an initial 45,000 rider cap nationwide.
At the start, Angkas led the industry with a reported 27,000 riders fulltime and part-time (now they are at 30,000). I remember when they publicly demonstrated that 17,000 will lose jobs because of the rider cap, the government’s TWG reminded them that all motorcycle taxis have no official transport franchise at the time, and they are only being allowed to operate as a “privilege”.
In the following years, a very intense rivalry in road competition and media bashing ensued. Joy Ride was linked to Senator Koko Pimentel after he endorsed it against Angkas. Pimentel clarified that he did it because he was against monopolies. JoyRide’s then VP Corporate affairs Noli Eala also denied Pimentel’s involvement in the company. Today, JoyRide also launched its new Super Taxi service of 25 units in its initial venture to TNVS.
But the partnership between Move It and Grab – today’s industry leader in TNVS, was scored by Angkas as a violation of Philippine competition laws and policies. Complaints were received by LTFRB and the Philippine Competition Commission about certain advertisement and promotional activities of Move It, implying that it was Grab exhibiting monopolistic behavior. Some legislators even called on LTFRB to remove MoveIt from the MC Pilot study, citing the same complaints presented by Angkas to LTFRB.
This is a very alarming scenario. Does the country need only two motorcycle taxi operators? Or the more players the merrier? From what I remember in 2019, the technical working group posted on DOTRs social media accounts its policy, “that the government is precisely trying to avoid a monopoly in this study at all costs” It also reiterated the “right of the rider to seek the best employment opportunity” from the three companies.
If one believes, Mr. George Royeca, CEO of Angkas, that a motorcycle taxi rider can earn as much as 1,500 to P2,000 a day or an average of P40,000 a month, then this financial opportunity should be made available to our job-seeking people. Perhaps, the technical working group and the new law should allow 100,000 motorcycle taxi riders nationwide distributed to all the tree companies.
However, safety and services must be greatly improved. From what we hear, there is a deteriorating quality in app technology and service. Among these are slow mobile app, under quality helmets and safety gears, drivers’ reckless and rude attitudes, and hygiene concerns. In addition, there are reports some drivers resort to extortion by charging additional fees to customers and offering illicit sexual service. Social media platforms especially Facebook and Twitter are riddled with netizens sharing their complaints about motorcycle riders.
I call on all government regulators, including senators and congressmen, to demonstrate their commitment to ensure a level playing field for the motorcycle taxi industry. This will not only benefit the Philippine economy in the macro-level but will also improve the everyday lives of Filipino workers and commuters.
Our government regulators and legislators must first open their eyes and ensure fairness and equality for Angkas, JoyRide or MoveIt. Second, disallow monopolies and ensure market competition and fair play to thrive in the motorcycle taxi pilot study in the interest of all drivers and passengers and thirdly, pass a long-delayed law governing the motorcycle taxi industry as a legitimate transport service, that is fair and responsive to all parties concerned.
80 flagship projects for Maharlika should inspire all Filipinos
In attending the APEC SUMMIT, the President revealed there are some 80 flagship infrastructure projects that will be financed thru the Maharlika Fund that seeks to upgrade physical and digital connectivity, water, agriculture, health, transport, and energy infrastructure facilities.
Marcos Jr. told investors at the Philippine Economic briefing that “a wealth of opportunity awaits them in the Philippines”, as priority projects of government “offer high returns” and significant social economic impact. Expected bigtime projects are modular nuclear power plant projects, the creation of the Philippine Cancer Center, and the setting up of regional Philippine Heart Center , Kidney centers in Cebu, Baguio and other areas.
There were also reports that a “bullet train” running from Ilocos down to Bicol will be at the latter part of the MIF offerings to foreigners. In 2010, San Miguel Corporation chair Ramon Ang revealed they will submit an unsolicited proposal for a Laoag-Manila-Bicol bullet train project that year. He commissioned a group that includes international companies with experience with bullet trains for this possibility and in case government at the time is interested. With the Maharlika fund, investors can fund this project.
In March this year, the NEDA board chaired by the President approved 197 projects worth $155-B and these include railways in Panay and Mindanao, expressway in Metro Cebu, NAIA rehabilitation and the Ilocos Sur Trans Basin venture.
With the entry of foreign capital willing to invest in our country’s sovereign wealth fund (MIF), the government will not need yearly budget outlay from its national expenditure. No wonder, foreign investors are keenly interested in the profitability of these 80 flagship projects mentioned by the President, from which details remain scarce today even to local media.
I just hope that in the very near future or before the year ends, these projects will be finally revealed in public to give our people much needed hope and inspiration despite the hard times ahead.
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