TWG on motorcycle taxis sends mixed signals on pilot run

Despite getting heavily criticized by lawmakers during the Senate hearing on Monday, Jan. 20, the Technical Working Group (TWG) on motorcycle taxis appears firm on its position to terminate its pilot test and apprehend riders from motorcycle-riding apps.

Members of the TWG during the Senate hearing on Monday, Jan. 20

During the hearing, TWG chair Antonio Gardiola seemed amenable in taking back its earlier statement that it was scrapping its pilot run. Asked by Sen. Grace Poe if he agrees with the consensus that the pilot study needs to be retained, Gardiola said he will recommend its extension to Transportation secretary Arthur Tugade.

But immediately after the conclusion of the Senate hearing, the TWG released a statement declaring that it will ask Congress to terminate the extended study.

In its recommendation, the TWG stressed that the earlier issuance of a 20-day temporary restraining order (TRO) by the Quezon City RTC Branch 223, which temporarily prevented it from implementing Section 10 of the revised guidelines with regards the imposition of the rider cap, had greatly compromised the integrity of the study’s data gathering design.

“As a result of the 20-day TRO, the integrity of the study was compromised as the data gathering design set by the TWG was hampered and allowed the unfettered entry of motorcycle taxis, eschewing the data gathering design of the TWG which was premised on a 30,000 riders sample size in Metro Manila and 9,000 riders in Cebu,” the TWG said in its recommendation.

The TWG earlier imposed a rider cap of 30,000 riders in Metro Manila and 9,000 riders in Cebu, to be divided equally among the three participating motorcycle transport companies in the study — Angkas, JoyRide and Move-It.

“Without the cap or the limit set on the number of participating riders as stated under Section 10 of the revised guidelines, the TWG cannot accurately collect data, and as such, compromising the integrity of its study,” the TWG added.

In addition, the TWG said the pending cases lodged by Angkas before the Quezon City RTC Branch 223 and the Mandaluyong City RTC Branch 212, questioning the study’s revised guidelines, have also hampered the implementation of the study.

“The TWG foresees its inability to gather accurate data to enable it to render any recommendation at the end of the pilot project. For this reason, the TWG hereby invokes Section 13 of the revised guidelines and recommends that the pilot implementation be terminated,” the TWG said in its recommendation.

This decision of the TWG did not sit well with Sen. Joel Villanueva who said canceling the study was “illogical”. “The TWG’s findings would have provided both houses of Congress a clearer perspective on the issue at hand, as its primary mandate should be,” he said in a statement.

“In outlawing motorcycle taxis with its decision to cancel the study, the TWG placed a portion of the riding public dependent on motorcycle taxis at risk because they will patronize an illegitimate form of transportation. From what we have gathered, our workers are reliant on motorcycle taxis to get to their jobs on time given the worsening traffic conditions here in Metro Manila,” he added.

Villanueva said the cancellation of the study means adding an estimated 27,000 riders back to the unemployment column. “We should create more jobs, not take away means of getting an honest day’s pay,” he said.

He pointed out that prohibiting the motorcycle taxi service without providing an alternative is “simply ridiculous.” “These agencies should definitely reconsider their arbitrary and capricious policies for the benefit of our citizens,” he stated.

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