Senator Christopher Lawrence “Bong” Go on Monday, January 20, said that he will recommend to President Rodrigo Duterte and Department of Transportation (DOTr) Secretary Art Tugade the extension of the pilot program for motorcycle taxis as long as they “abide and care for the safety of the passengers.”

This comes after the technical working group (TWG) studying the pilot run of the transport service recommended to “immediately terminate the implementation of the pilot study.”

“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 Republic Act (RA) 4136 to include motorcycles as an alternative for public transport because I recognize the benefits they provide to the commuting public,” Go said during a public hearing of the Committee on Public Services joint with Local Government Committee at the Senate Session Hall.

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

“Ang gusto ko lamang, ay gawin lahat ng maayos and, most importantly, maprotektahan ang interest ng commuting public,” he added.

Go also urged his fellow senators to prioritize the interests of Filipinos on issues hounding Transport Network Vehicle Services (TNVS).

“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,” Go said.

Go further said that public safety should be prioritized when it comes to public services. He added that service providers are responsible for the welfare of their consumers.

“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.,” Go said.

“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,” he added.

Go also shed light on fake news circulating on social media alleging his involvement in motorcycle ridesharing app and Angkas competitor, JoyRide.

The senator belied the allegations, saying, “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 totoo lang, noong lumabas lang ang isyung ito na narinig ko ang kumpanyang JoyRide na iyan,” he said.

Go then asked transport regulators to immediately deny applications of groups that use his name and the President’s to push their own interests.

“Sa LTFRB naman, magkakilala naman po tayo, kilala ninyo naman po ako, Chairman Delgra, 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.”

“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,” he added.

Go also warned the perpetrators of fake news, saying “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.”

TNVS companies, such as Grab and Angkas, have come under public scrutiny in recent months due to various concerns regarding their services, including legal limitations which restrict their operations, safety concerns, and overpricing. Despite the issues, Go acknowledged the benefits of the services, particularly those of Angkas.

“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,” he said.

Go also mentioned that if he can have his way, he would allow all qualified players to compete in the market so long as they ensure the safety of their passengers.

“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,” Go said.

Emphasizing the welfare of Filipino consumers, Go also urged the stakeholders to talk and come up with preventive measures to current issues of safety before untoward incidents happen in the future.

“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,” he ended.

After the hearing, Go talked to the Angkas riders protesting outside the Senate building to express his support for their welfare while reminding them to ensure the safety of their passengers.

“Kung maaari lang lahat kayo ayaw naming mawalan ng trabaho. Basta unahin natin ang safety ng pasahero,” he said.

The senator also shared with them that he has already discussed the extension of their pilot program with Secretary Tugade, and Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) Chairman Martin Delgra.

“Ngayon pinakiusapan ko na si Secretary Tugade at si Chairman Delgra, pati ang TWG, na mag-usap na kayo. Sa ngayon, pumayag sila na wala munang huhulihin,” he said.

“Basta makinig lang tayo. Pakinggan nila kayo, pakinggan niyo rin sila. ‘Yun lang ang importante,” he said.

Go added that the President is also concerned about their livelihood, saying “Si Pangulo, ayaw niyang may mawalan ng trabaho. Pero siguraduhin ninyo ‘yung kapakanan ng pasahero ninyo. Ingat kayo parati. Ayaw namin may masaktan,” he said.

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