Days after the massive rally of riders from ride-hailing app Angkas, bikers gathered anew at Mendiola in Manila on December 27 to air their grievances to President Rodrigo Duterte.
The Land Transportation Franchising Regulatory Board had been on Angkas’ heels since September 2018, citing safety issues and legal impediments for the use of motorcycle as public transportation.
Hundreds of Angkas bikers gathered along Mendiola to seek help from Duterte to reconsider the LTFRB’s plan on putting a cap on the number of motorcycle taxi service riders plying Metro Manila and Metro Cebu.
This new policy will lower the number of Angkas riders from 27,000 to 10,000, thus displacing 17,000 of their people because of it.
Angkas turned to the public to call for support and protest against LTFRB’s new decision through social media.
— Angkas (@angkas) December 21, 2019
It also started the hashtag #SaveAngkas and soon made it to the top trending list of Twitter Philippines.
Stories on the reliability and convenience of Angkas as an alternative to the inefficient state-provided public transportation were talked about on Twitterverse that day.
One Twitter user remembered that free rides Angkas were provided when LRT-2 broke down and left many commuters stranded.
Remember, it was the Angkas drivers who offered free rides when the LRT-2 operations failed. They had our backs when THE PHILIPPINE GOVERNMENT FAILED to give us the appropriate response they should've done. Angkas rescues me in emergency situations, at kaisa ako. #SaveAngkas https://t.co/QrIFXBl43y
— ello (@mathyconcepcion) December 21, 2019
Such online uproar translated into a large-scale rally on December 22. Over 20,000 of them, along with transport advocates and some commuters, gathered along the thoroughfares White Plains Avenue and EDSA. The event ended with the bikers moving around Quezon City Circle.
Sen. Imee Marcos’ presence in the demonstration came as a surprise.
The audacity of this bitch to ride on #SaveAngkas and speak at the People Power Monument when she obviously never rode an Angkas in her life. Just a reminder: the transport crisis we have now was systemically caused by the neoliberal economic policies that your father started. https://t.co/DhRQmCFu5b
— Philip Jamilla (@pmjamilla) December 22, 2019
The LTFRB cap amid new players
The LTFRB announced on Facebook that it has extended its pilot implementation of motorcycle taxis from December 23 to March 23, 2020 with additional providers JoyRide and Move It.
This was the extension of the previous pilot run implemented by the Department of Transportation which started last June. It was supposed to end on December 26.
The caveat is that the LTFRB set a cap of 39,000 registered bikers for the extended test program—10,000 per transport network company for Metro Manila, and then 3,000 per TNC in Metro Cebu.
Such figures will be divided among the three providers JoyRide, Move It and Angkas.
Therefore, Angkas had to reduce its current fleet of 27,000 to only 10,000.
This backlash on the side of the bikers prompted the Philippine Competition Commission to appeal to LTFRB to reconsider its decision.
PCC Commissioner Johannes Bernabe said that the situation with Angkas is not necessarily a monopoly similar to Grab, another ride-hailing service.
“With Angkas, its bigness was not like Grab which acquired its competitor and therefore became dominant and a monopoly. Here, [Angkas] grew out of its own efforts. In a sense, you are taking away what Angkas has worked hard on obtaining, which is a driver base,” Bernabe said in an interview.
The transport agency, however, perceived that Angkas is only “overreacting” because of the total number of riders it will allow.
“You are overreacting kasi mababawasan ang riders n’yo who now has the option to choose from among two additional providers for the interest if a fair and objective study,” LFTRB board member Antonio Gardiola said.
The DOTr and LTFRB had been at odds over the ride-hailing service since September 2018 when the Supreme Court ruling in favor of LTFRB to arrest Angkas riders.
Back then, Angkas also took to social media to support an online petition to LTFRB Chairman Martin Delgra III to save the livelihood of its riders and the commuters’ welfare in the future.