Commuters, groups decry ‘illegal’ tag on motor taxis

An estimated 30,000 to 47,000 bikers will be affected by the termination of motor taxis. (Photo by John Aaron Macaraeg / Bulatlat)

Labor group Defend Job Philippines dubbed Gardiola’s announcement as “massacre” of livelihood of thousands of motor taxi drivers. An estimated 30,000 to 47,000 drivers will be affected.

By JOHN AARON MARK MACARAEG
Bulatlat.com

MANILA— Commuters expressed their dismay after a transportation official declared that motorcycle taxis are illegal.

Antonio Gardiola, Jr. board member of the Land Transportation and Franchise Regulatory Board (LTFRB) and head of the Inter-agency technical working group (TWG) recommended the termination of their pilot study on the safety of motorcycle taxis, January 20.

Gardiola said motor taxis could be considered illegal because “they are drawing their authority to run motorcycles because of the study.”

The TWG was tasked with assessing the feasibility of motorcycle taxi services as a safe mode of public transportation. Pioneer operator Angkas had faced suspensions before. Two other companies — Joyride, and MoveIt – were allowed to participate in the pilot program since late last year.

Labor group Defend Job Philippines dubbed Gardiola’s announcement as “massacre” of livelihood of thousands of motor taxi drivers. An estimated 30,000 to 47,000 drivers will be affected.

Christian Lloyd Magsoy, Defend Job Philippines spokesperson, is hopeful that Gardiola would not put the livelihood of thousands of workers and their families at risk just to get back at a particular group opposing the LFTRB’s policies.

In its recommendation, the TWG claimed that the actions of Angkas and its bikers are “obstacles” to the study, which include the protest against the cap on the number of bikers and the petitions to stop LTFRB’s guidelines.

Magsoy pointed out that most of the bikers are jobless Filipinos who were already victims of the government’s failure to provide decent jobs to all. “… and yet their livelihood is being victimized again,” Magsoy said.

Commuters and supporters of Angkas, have flooded Twitter to express their frustration on the decision of TWG.

Angkas has more than 37,000 bikers. Its bikers gathered quickly in front of the Senate to protest Gardiola’s announcement.

As of this writing, Angkas posted on its Twitter account, “update: we live to fight another day, mga panget! #SaveAngkas”

There are those who defended Angkas, and recognized them for “providing solution to almost everyday gridlock situation in Metro Manila’s major roads.”

In a statement, Bayan Muna Representative Ferdinand Gaite also sided with the affected commuters and motorcycle-taxi bikers by asking if the government really wanted to ensure the consumers’ safety “or something else.”

“One minute they are saying that they do not have enough data, the next minute they’re terminating the study without even having conclusive results. LTFRB Board Member Antonio Gardiola’s immature action meant to spite Angkas for its legal actions would cause commuters and drivers undue suffering,” Gaite said.

He thus urged the LTFRB to finish the study and recommend real solutions and to always “put the welfare of the public in mind, both commuters and riders alike.” ()

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