Let’s say you started a new business, selling a product that you spent millions on research and development for. It’s a product that does well and serves a purpose. Then in come new players producing the same thing, and you are ordered by government regulators to cut down your production in the name of leveling the playing field and avoiding a monopoly. Is that fair? That’s what it seems to be happening to Angkas at the moment with JoyRide and Move It entering the fray. When the news broke—that Angkas would have to downsize and let go of 17,000 riders—the company released a statement that went viral. It was, at one point, the number two trending topic on Twitter. Angkas has proven it can make a lot of noise and get people’s attention. Which was also proven when thousands of riders went to the EDSA Kalayaan Shrine for a peaceful protest on Sunday—just three days before Christmas!
At a press conference, George Royeca, chief transport advocate of Angkas, said: “This is not a monopoly. We welcome competition, but not at the expense of the safety of the riding public. The TWG (LTFRB’s technical working group in charge of motorcycle taxis) is not about regulation. It’s corruption.”
And in media chat groups, a new statement attributed to Royeca has been circulating, and it says: “What we aspire for is simple. Yes, include as many new players as you want, but please remove the cap per provider and make it a pool where bikers are free to choose where they want to be accredited.”
Royeca is particularly proud of the three years of research and development that Angkas has invested in 27,000 riders and their training just to get things as right as possible.
Now, I’ve taken the Angkas course (which 70% of applicants fail, by the way) so I know firsthand just how difficult it is. It is one of the most difficult motorcycle tests I’ve taken, which shows why Angkas has a claimed 99% safety rating. Royeca questions how the government expects the new players to fast-track the testing and training of their riders in three months.
I got a hold of Noli Eala, the vice president for corporate affairs at JoyRide, and this is what he had to say: “We have to remember that the current situation is a pilot implementation. This is not for commercial gain yet but principally for data-gathering to help government craft necessary legislation. Having said that, what we all have now is not a right to operate but merely a privilege to join the study. Secondly, the 39,000-rider cap is being imposed as a sample size for the study—not for economics. The reason for the size is because this is what government can monitor at the moment. Now, all riders can apply with the two new operators. Thus, the 17,000 Angkas riders are free to apply for as long as they are able to comply with all of the requirements. All that we at JoyRide want is to help government craft the law needed to allow motorcycle taxi services. And in these next three months, all of us operators have to come together to show to government that MC taxis are safe and reliable. Economics is not and should not be the principal consideration.”
I’ve taken Angkas many times and will continue to do so. I appreciate the service it provides. It has saved me on multiple occasions to get to my destination on time. I do believe that competition is healthy and the eventual winners will be the consumers, but hopefully the issues will be ironed out. Most important, I hope the 17,000 riders who will be displaced at Angkas can find other means of providing for their families.