Now Reading:

How we almost lost Angkas

Gabbi Garcia and Khalil Ramos for Scout x Globe

Angkas has had a strange, strange week.

It all started early Monday morning, when the LTFRB’s Technical Working Group (TWG) suddenly announced that they were ending the pilot run for motorcycle taxis way too early—like two months early—because of “numerous obstacles” that were apparently hindering the TWG from gathering their data. Oh, and also because of “social media statements disparaging the TWG,” meaning they got all sensitive. This meant all bike taxi services would have been illegal the following week.

Yes, that also meant Angkas’s competitor Joyride, but there were also rumblings of Angkas being blacklisted for supposed violations. I don’t know about you, but that certainly looks like a vendetta to me.

I don’t know about you, but that certainly looks like a vendetta to me.

Of course, they got the exact reaction anyone would expect for an announcement like this. After all, Angkas and its kind are now the easiest and cheapest ways to make it from point A to point B on time (and maybe a little disheveled) in the hell that is Metro Manila traffic. The motorcycle riders themselves have acknowledged their value in this system, investing their money and time into bikes just to get these jobs. Then you’d take them all away out of what clearly looks like spite?

But not to worry—as some predicted, this controversy wouldn’t last too long, because it seemed like a smokescreen for something else. Two days later, the TWG took back their little decision and allowed the pilot run to continue. While that’s definitely good news for Filipino commuters in the city, it’s still a just a little bit sketchy as one Senator Bong Go, who some think has connections to Joyride, and by extension President Duterte, look like heroes for saving the day.

While that’s definitely good news for Filipino commuters in the city, it’s still a just a little bit sketchy

Then on the same day, Senator Koko Pimentel filed a resolution in the Senate to declare Angkas CEO Angeline Tham persona non grata for “arrogant and irresponsible acts,” referring to the big Angkas rally last month protesting the 10,000-biker limit the LTFRB was set to impose on the service. Nobody is really taking it seriously as Pimentel wrote the resolution in a really vindictive manner, plus there’s also the fact that his former campaign headquarters is now the Joyride base of operations. So, uh, good luck with that.

So now that Angkas has come out of this relatively unscathed—until the next controversy comes, at least—who’s really losing here? Is it their competitors? The idea of motorcycle taxis as a whole? Ride-sharing apps in general?

Some lose more than others, but the true loser of it all is the Filipino public.

Seriously, though—it’s 2020 and we’ve had this traffic crisis for years. What are we still doing relying on services like Angkas, Joyride, Grab, Owto, Sampassenger, and whatever else have you? The paralyzing traffic in the Metro has created a whole new economy from which capitalists and entrepreneurs can make more money than their drivers and riders. One could even think it’s in the best interests of that few to keep the city forever congested.

The paralyzing traffic in the Metro has created a whole new economy from which capitalists and entrepreneurs can make more money than their drivers and riders.

The truth is these services aren’t really making things better. They’re only serving us the illusion of progress and convenience. As long as we have our own ways of getting where we need to be, we’re always going to think that we’re being saved somehow. Well, we are, but there could always be more to transportation than this messy ecosystem where some are trying to take others out.

But what’s really going to make things better is when the government finally does something real and impactful about the terrible traffic in Manila, including making public transportation a real breeze and affordable to ride for every Filipino. That’s what we’re really looking for, because until that happens, we’re only just gritting our teeth and tolerating spending so much of our less-than-ideal salaries on getting around. (Oh, and that’s a rant for another article, too.)

…what’s really going to make things better is when the government finally does something real and impactful about the terrible traffic in Manila

In the meantime, if you use it, thank your lucky stars that Angkas is still around. Tip your riders if you can afford it, because if motorcycle taxis ultimately end up not being legal after March, then they’ll be the hardest hit economically. We’re all in this mess together, and we’re gonna be in here for quite a while—especially with these politicians and unsavory characters always trying to make things harder for us.

Art by Rye Antonio

Comments

Romeo Moran
Written by

Input your search keywords and press Enter.