SOME members of the House of Representatives have called out the Technical Working Group (TWG) of the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) and told the group to not muddle the current issues on the motorcycle taxi pilot and confuse the public into thinking that the 20-day temporary restraining order (TRO) on the riders’ cap was not granted.
The TWG earlier disclosed to the media that Angkas’ petition for a TRO on the riders cap was denied by the Mandaluyong Regional Trial Court. Some solons said that this news item effectively confuses the public because the same Mandaluyong RTC previously granted a 72-hour TRO against the riders’ cap which has recently lapsed.
Moreover, a QC Regional Trial Court recently granted a 20-day TRO that lifted the cap on the total number of operating Angkas motorcycle taxis, allowing the full fleet of 27,000 to operate for 20 days.
Manila congresswoman Cristal Bagatsing expressed her support for the TRO, saying, “There is an existing 20-day TRO granted last January 10, allowing 27,000 Angkas bikers to operate and still serve commuters. The TWG shouldn’t mislead the public into thinking the TRO wasn’t granted. It was, and we need to respect this existing TRO which is still in effect,” she said. “There will be hearings at both houses in a few days to discuss this issue. In the meantime, let’s redirect our energies to helping our countrymen affected by the Taal Volcano eruption. Let us also remember that the welfare of commuters should always be paramount, in light of the worsening traffic situation in urbanized areas like Metro Manila and Metro Cebu.”
Terry Ridon, Infrawatch PH convenor and former House Transportation Committee member, agreed that court TROs must be respected by all parties.
“Pilot mechanisms, even if these are at the initiatory stages of policy creation, should not amount to regulatory capture. By forcing caps on participants of the pilot, the public will be burdened in the event that supply gets limited due to this policy. Who then should be made accountable for this?
“Certainly our seemingly infallible transport officials,” said Ridon.
“More importantly, this anti-competitive policy should be nipped in the bud, in order that no other regulated sector would experience the same policy pitfall. No less than the country’s competition officials had raised objective concerns on this issue, and transport officials should get down their high horse and listen to the experts. Insisting on the cap will only afford the public continuing suspicions that this policy is being done to obviously benefit emerging players. While it is government’s mandate to encourage competition, nothing in this policy encourages competition. What it encourages is unwarranted government action on innovation and market forces.”
Rep. Bernadette Herrera of Quezon City agreed with the 20-day TRO being respected. “The QC TRO gives the 17,000 bikers of Angkas 20 more days to operate and retain their livelihoods,” she said. “The court granted this in good faith so that the commuting public can have a greater number of experienced bikers that will serve them during this period. Malaking tulong din po ang mga motorcycle transport sa amin. Susuportahan natin ang batas para maisaayos ang proseso ng mga ito.
Rep. Presley De Jesus of PHILRECA Partylist also said that the 20-day TRO issued by the Quezon City court is a welcome development in the ongoing issue of the motorcycle taxis pilot. “I hope both Houses of Congress will prioritize the possible regulation and legalization of motorcycle taxi operations as a win-win solution for commuters and motorcycle taxi operators and bikers. In fact, there are already scheduled hearings next week in the Senate and Congress — let us allow both houses to look into this matter more closely next week with all the stakeholders who should have been involved here.”
Congress and Senate hearings on the motorcycle taxi pilot run in aid of legislation will be held next week. During the hearings, it is expected that legislators will look into the current issues in the pilot run more closely and take up the pending bills on the regulation of motorcycle taxi services.