Osmeña asks congressional allies: Legalize Angkas

By Morexette Marie B. Erram |December 22,2018 - 10:27 PM

Tomas Osmeña (CDN Photo / Lito Tecson)

CEBU City Mayor Tomas Osmeña is not giving up his fight to revive the operations of ride-hailing application Angkas.

In a post on his official Facebook page, Osmeña announced that he has tapped the help of his political allies in the House of Representatives, Rep. Raul del Mar (Cebu City North District) and Rodrigo “Bebot” Abellanosa (Cebu City-South District), to push for the legalization of Angkas.

“I have spoken to Raul and Bebot, and the two Congressmen of BOPK (Bando Osmeña Pundok Kauswagan) will move to fullylegalize Angkas,” said Osmeña.

“Just because something is illegal doesn’t mean it’s wrong. Slavery was once legal and the aiding of escaped slaves was once illegal. The law is not perfect, which is why it is subject to change,” he added.

The decision to tap his allies in Congress was on top of his plan to ask the city council to grant him an authority to file in the name of the Cebu City government an appeal before the Supreme Court (SC), on behalf of the riding public, to lift the Temporary Restraining Order (TRO) it issued against the operation of Angkas.

The city government is now also processing the distribution of sacks of rice to all 6,000 habal-habal (motorcycle-for-hire) drivers affected by the SC decision to suspend Angkas’ operations.

Osmeña has been expressing his concern not only for the habal-habal drivers but also for the riding public since the High Court issued a TRO based on the petition filed by the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) and the Department of Transportation (DOTr) against Angkas on the ground that Angkas should secure a congressional franchise before it could operate.

The LTFRB and DOTr went to the Supreme Court to question the decision of a Mandaluyong City regional trial court (RTC) that granted the writ of preliminary injunction that was sought by Angkas. The RTC’s injunction allowed Angkas to resume operation last August.

But after the SC released the TRO on December 5, enforcers from LTFRB and Land Transportation Office (LTO) were immediately ordered by the SC to apprehend Angkas drivers who continued to accept passengers.

Last December 13, Angkas filed before the SC an urgent motion to lift the TRO.

Wrong

“It is wrong for ordinary hardworking people to be turned into criminals. If Angkas and other ride-sharing services are illegal, then they should be made legal. The law should adjust to people’s needs. The law is designed to serve the people. The people obey, but do not serve, the law,” said Osmeña.

The mayor’s recent decision to ask help from Cebu City’s congressmen stemmed from a Facebook comment made by an Angkas driver identified as Jayson Labor Comedia who feared losing his only means of income.

“Mayor, Angkas driver ko. Nawagtangan najud mig panginabuhi… mora namig mga kriminal tago2x sa mga LTO, LTFRB ug I-ACT (Inter-Agency Council on Traffic) paita namo aning sitwasyona mayor oy,” Comedia said.

(Mayor, I am an Angkas driver. We lost our livelihood and we felt like criminals trying to hide from LTO, LTFRB and I-ACT enforcers. Our situation is difficult mayor.)

Underground

Angkas also feared that their drivers may be forced to go underground — that is, become unregistered or “habal-habal” drivers — if the Supreme Court will not lift the TRO.

George Royeca, head of Angkas regulatory and public affairs, said they feared that their drivers might return to the habal-habal operation since they could no longer monitor them.

By monitoring, he meant keeping track of their trips and fees and of their safety – in case they get into an accident.

“So I think the roads are actually more dangerous right now because a lot of these drivers have come back to habal-habal,” Royeca said in a press conference in Manila Saturday.

That would result in a “state of lawlessness,” he said. “So basically we have zero control right now because of the decision,” he added.

But Royeca said they remained “hopeful that the Supreme Court will find merit on our case.”

According to Royeca, the temporarily suspension of its operations has affected 25,000 drivers nationwide.

He also said that the directive of Transportation Secretary Arthur Tugade might not directly affect the decision of the SC.

On Friday, Tugade directed the formation of a technical working group (TWG) to study the feasibility of using motorcycles as public transportation

“I don’t know if the whole TWG would directly or somewhat influence the decision, but I think where we should look at is the plight of the Fiilipinos,” Royeca said.

The TWG will consist of LTO, LTFRB, Philippine National Police–Highway Patrol Group, and Metro Manila Development Authority. Both houses of Congress — the Senate and the House of Representatives,

commuter welfare groups, road safety advocates, motorcycle manufacturers, motorcycle organizations, and law schools, will also be part of the TWG. /INQUIRER.NET

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