Panelo opts to hop on ‘Angkas’

October 11, 2019
Salvador Panelo
Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo gets a motorcycle ride to Malacañang. Photo courtesy of ABS-CBN news

THREE jeepneys and three hours later in his controversial commuter challenge, Presidential Spokesman Salvador Panelo ended up riding a motorcycle taxi to finally teach to Malacañang.

Sen. Ralph Recto, who authored a bill pushing for the legalization of motorcycle taxi, said that it was a smart move for Panelo to use a motorcyle taxi to be able to get to Malacanang.

“It would have actually taken more time for Panelo to get to the palace without Angkas. We can really cut travel time and beat traffic crisis by taking alternative transportation like Angkas, and get to spend more time with our families.”

For her part, Manila Congresswoman Cristal Bagatsing said that “Secretary Panelo’s use of a motorcycle taxi in his commuting challenge is a testament to the usefulness of the platform in helping Filipino commuters. We must all work together to help legislate and regulate legitimate and professional motorcycle taxi services such as Angkas to fill the gaps in the country’s problematic mass transport system,” Bagatsing adds.

Motorcycle taxis have been informally used for decades in the Philippines and have been colloquially dubbed “habal habal.” In 2016, Angkas, the first motorcycle ride-hailing app in the Philippines, came to the country and formalized the service. In June 2019, Angkas was granted a DOTr-sanctioned 6-month pilot run to assess the service’s safety and viability.

Jobert Bolaños of the Motorcycle Rights Organization had this to say about the pilot run:

“The pilot run is the fruit of the long hours spent by the members of the TWG: Angkas, the DOTr, the LTFRB, the Highway Patrol Group, the MMDA, and all the hardworking commuter groups, transport advocates, and members of the academe. We’ve spent a long time working to figure out how to come up with a motorcycle taxi service that’s not only fast and accessible, but also satisfies the strict safety standards and requirements of the regulatory agencies as well.”

Angkas Chief Transport Advocate George Royeca also commended Panelo for trying out the motorcycle taxi in his commute.

“We salute Panelo for trying out a motorcycle taxi on his commute and for shining light on how it can be a good option to beat the chaotic traffic of Metro Manila. The partnership with DOTr and Angkas is the best example of a non-infrastructure policy measure that is working to help ease traffic in the metro. We are grateful for Secretary Tugade’s leadership to make motorcycle-taxis a reality in our country,” Royeca said.

Panelo, in an earlier press conference, denied that there is a transport crisis in the Philippines, saying that the commuters still get to their destinations, anyway. He added that passengers should leave their homes early if they want to get to their destinations on time.

This triggered the militant groups Kilusang Mayo Uno and Anakbayan to challenge Panelo to try and commute via public transport to experience the daily woes of commuters.

Panelo quickly accepted the challenge, saying he grew up on the streets and has no problems commuting.

“Nagkamali sila ng hinamon. Laking kalsada ako at sanay akong mag-commute,” Panelo said.

Panelo left his Marikina home yesterday at 5:15 am and started his commute challenge.

He transferred from one jeepney to another and happily sent away selfies of his “journey” to media, who tried to stalk him. Media finally caught up with Panelo at the LRT Cubao station where he was supposed to take the train but decided to hop on to another passenger jeep and got down at Mendiola.

At this point, palace reporters said that Panelo arrived in Malacanang before 9 am, almost an hour late for his work.

A bill was recently filed by Senator Ralph Recto, Senator Cristal Bagatsing, and Senator Grace Poe to officiate and legalize motorcycle taxis as a transport option nationwide. With a few months left of the six-month pilot run for Angkas, government agencies have yet to announce whether the bill has passed in the Senate. Panelo, along with at least 2 million users of the Angkas ride-hailing app, has found value in motorcycle taxis for hire as a way to manage chaotic traffic in the country.