(DURING THE SENATE PUBLIC HEARING ON PUBLIC SERVICES JOINT WITH LOCAL GOVERNMENT)

January 20, 2020

Madam Chair,

I am and will always be a strong supporter of private companies and their crucial role in making the Philippines a more progressive and prosperous nation. They are important partners of the government in providing quality and safe goods and services to our citizens.

However, before I proceed any further, allow me first to state my position: When it comes to choosing between public and private interests, it is a given to me—both as a Senator and as a Filipino—to first prioritize the interests of the Filipino people.

Recently, the Transport Network Vehicle Service or TNVS company, Grab, and motorcycle ridesharing app Angkas have been in the headlines and experiencing public scrutiny due to the various concerns regarding their services. While these companies have truly been a great help to commuters by providing alternatives for the commuting public, we still cannot overlook the issues that have surrounded their operations in recent months.

But before identifying these issues, it is proper that we first acknowledge the many benefits that Angkas provides to the commuting public.

The service helps ease the worsening traffic situation in Metro Manila and other key cities in the country by providing an alternate option to existing public transportation. It provides cheaper and faster services compared to many offered by other 4-wheeled vehicles in the sector. It also helps thousands of previously unregulated habal-habal drivers in our country by enabling them to become part of the formal economy.

We also acknowledge the high safety standards being observed by Angkas, which include (1) accepting drivers with no less than 2 years of driving experience; (2) their units must not be older than 7 years old; (3) training with written and practical exams needed to be passed; and (4) helmets and reflectors being provided to drivers and passengers alike.

Nonetheless, we are a nation governed by laws. Laws which are primarily geared towards protecting the rights and welfare of the commuting public.

Under existing laws, motorcycles are not allowed to be used for public transport. An amendment to Republic Act 4136 is therefore needed to allow motorcycles to be used as public transport.

Considering its pioneering status, Angkas was tapped as a participant in the pilot implementation, which began in June 2019. As the program is a relatively new concept in transportation services, it can only rely on the fluidity of the pilot implementation to develop the guidelines.

Thus, the TWG has been developing guidelines which are meant to safeguard public interest.

Consequently, the TWG, the Technical Working Group has also opened up the program to include other participants, to be able to establish a benchmark analysis, and provide Congress with valuable inputs to develop a regulatory framework in coming up with the necessary recommendations as well as amendments to RA 4136.

And while we are on the issue of opening up the industry to new participants, I may as well respond to some malicious allegations that I purportedly own or have some “vested interests” in one of the players being included in the pilot program.

Gusto kong sabihin sa lahat ng nakikinig ngayon sa public hearing na ito: Hindi po totoo ‘yung kumakalat sa Twitter at ibang social media outlets na ako raw ang may-ari o may interes ako sa JoyRide. Nagsalita na po si Mr. Noli Eala. Isang malaking kasinungalingan po ito, fake news po ito.

Sa LTFRB naman, sa lahat, magkakilala naman po tayo, kilala ninyo naman po ako, General Gardiola, kayong lahat, kapag ginamit po ang pangalan ko, at ginamit ang pangalan ni Pangulo, at ginamit, kahit kaanak ni Pangulo, please deny that application immediately, automatic na po ‘yun. Wala ng dapat pag-usapan, matagal ng sinasabi yan ni Pangulo. ‘Wag kayong magpapadala.

Sa totoo lang, noong lumabas lang ang isyung ito na narinig ko ang kumpanyang JoyRide na iyan. Baka sa susunod, alam ninyo ba, halos lahat po ng mga kanto, kayo, mga motorcycle riders, di ba halos lahat ng kanto mayroong traffic light? Baka sabihin ninyo, yang green na ‘yan, akin ‘yan. Hindi akin ‘yan. Kita niyo, puro green yan, o kay Bong Go na naman iyan. Kayo mga motorcycle riders, di ba minsan nakikita niyo rin yung hotel diyan, yung Sogo, baka sabihin ninyo akin din yan… Pati yung Chooks to go, baka sabihin ninyo na sa akin rin yan.

Sa lahat ng mga kasamahan ko sa gobyerno, gusto kong ipaalala ulit sa inyo: Huwag maniwala sa gumagamit ng pangalan namin ni Pangulo o sa mga kaanak niya. Hindi nakakatulong kung sinuman ang gumagamit sa aming pangalan. Asahan din ninyo na lahat ng gagamit ng mga pangalan namin, denied lahat ‘yan.

Kagaya ng sinabi ng Pangulo, hindi kami sumasali sa anumang government contracts at walang dumadaan sa aming lamesa na ganyan. Ang hangarin namin ay ang interest ng publiko at makapagserbisyo sa bawat Pilipino.

Sa promotor na nagkakalat naman ng fake news, hindi ko kayo palalampasin. I will surely keep you busy. Huwag mong gawin sa kapwa mo ang ayaw mong gawin sa iyo.

Sa mga drivers naman po, nagmamalasakit kami sa inyo. Nakikiusap po ako sa inyo, ingat po kayo sa pagmamaneho, huwag po kayong mag-inom pag nagmamaneho, lalo na sa pagmomotor. Baka pang na-bonggo kayo, ako nanaman ang may kasalanan. Anyway, may mga Malasakit Center tayo na handang tumulong sa inyo. Huwag naman sana.

Anyway, kung ako lang ang masusunod, lahat ng industry players ay bibigyan natin ng prangkisa para mabigyan ng hanapbuhay ang lahat basta’t siguradong ligtas ang seguridad ng bawat pasahero.

Kapag maayos ang inyong serbisyo, sasama pa akong mamamasada sa inyong lahat.

Meron ngang isang senador na gumawa ng endorsement letter para sa JoyRide. Pero hindi naman niya ginawa iyon para mag-influence at mabuti ang kanyang intention. He only wants to keep the playing ground fair and balance. Ganun din ang gusto ng DOTR, ang maging pantay-pantay ang lahat ng service providers.

As for Grab, the Philippine Competition Commission has recently penalized the company with a PHP 16.15 Million fine for overpricing and high driver cancellations, in violation of its service quality commitments.

According to reports, the fine is composed of P14.15 million for pricing deviations, and P2 million for driver cancellations of 7.76% of rides, instead of the 5% ceiling. The P16.15-million in total fine is just the latest in a series of penalties imposed on Grab for violations.

For violating its pricing commitments to the PCC, Grab was fined P11.3 million in the first quarter; P7.1 million in the second quarter; and P5.05 million in the third quarter.

Given this string of violations, we want to find out whether or not the Transport Network Company has abused the privileges that it has been given during the last holiday season. I will not hesitate to push for the cancellation of your permit if you violate your mandates, as stated in your respective contracts.

Fare structure guidelines must also be strictly followed, and those found continually abusing these commitments must be punished with stiff penalties such as fines or suspensions, if warranted.

Ultimately, we also want to find out whether or not opening up the program to other participants would be beneficial to the commuting public. After all, the primordial consideration of our laws should always be the interest of the Filipino people.

There is no doubt that the business of public transportation is imbued with public interest. It is the reason why we are here and it is also the reason why we are adamant that only those qualified under existing laws, and capable of ensuring the safety of the public, are allowed to operate.

Hangad ko po na sa pagdinig na ito ay mas mabigyan ng linaw ang mga isyu patungkol sa Grab at Angkas. Gaya ng lagi kong sinasabi: Hindi po kami anti-business. Hindi niyo po kalaban ang gobyerno.

Ngunit bilang service providers, may mga responsibilidad din po kayo na dapat gampanan sa Filipino consumers. Trabaho namin na proteksyunan ang kanilang interes at seguridad.

Mahalaga po na public interest at safety ang parating mangunguna. Mahalaga man na hindi mawalan ng hanapbuhay ang mga empleyado at importante man na protektahan din natin ang karapatan ng karamihan na mag-negosyo, hindi po natin dapat isawalang-bahala ang ating mga batas at ang interes ng bawat Pilipino.

Hindi kailanman dapat isakripisyo ang kapakanan ng publiko at bawat pasahero. Nararapat lamang po na isa-puso at isip din natin ang kanilang kapakanan at hindi lamang po kung magkano ang kikitain natin sa kanila.

Ika nga nila, mas masarap sa pakiramdam ang mag-negosyo at kumita kung alam mo ring malinis ang inyong konsensiya at wala kang sinasaktan at naa-agrabyado.

Huwag na nating hintayin na meron pang di kanais-nais na mangyari—sa mga driver at pasahero—bago tayo mag-iimbestiga sa Senado. Pag usapan na natin ngayon ang safety ng mga pasahero—yun ang importante sa akin at kay Pangulong Duterte.

Ngayong umaga po nabalitaan ko na may recommendation ang Technical Working Group na itigil ang pilot program ng Motorcycle Taxis.

I will support the continuation of the program, and the amendments to RA 4136 to include motorcycles as an alternative for public transport because I recognize the benefits they provide to the commuting public. Ang gusto ko lamang, ay gawin lahat ng maayos and most importantly, maprotektahan ang interest ng commuting public.

Madame Chair, I will recommend to the President and to Sec Art Tugade the extension of the pilot program for motorcycle taxis provided that they will abide and care for the safety of the passengers.

Thank you, Madam Chair.

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