Senator Aquilino Pimentel III insisted today that a persona non grata petition that he filed against Angkas CEO and Singaporean national Angeline Tham “will not affect” the operations of the Philippines’ pioneering motorcycle taxi firm.
The senator’s assurance comes a day after reports surfaced that he had filed Senate Resolution No. 287, which seeks to ban Tham from working and living in the Philippines. Pimentel — who just so happens to be friends with the owners of a rival firm — says he wants Tham out of the country due to her supposed “misleading and bullying behavior,” accusing her (without offering evidence) of being behind a 20,000-strong “indignation rally” last month protesting a sudden government cap that cut Angkas’ fleet by some 17,000 drivers.
The resolution, dated Jan. 16, urged lawmakers to look into the Angkas boss’ “high-handed, arrogant and irresponsible acts.” It also urged the legislative chamber to look into Tham’s stake in Angkas, accusing the firm of violating the Constitution’s 40 percent cap on foreign ownership of public transport services.
Tham had previously been a majority owner of the firm, which was initially registered not as a transport provider, but a software company. About a week before Pimentel’s resolution, however, the firm announced it had changed its ownership structure to comply with the constitutional cap.
And speaking of ownership, Pimentel is a personal friend of the owners of JoyRide, a rival ride-hailing company that he recommended for inclusion in a pilot program to determine the viability of motorbikes as public utility vehicles. The pilot initially only included Angkas, but now also includes JoyRide and fellow newcomer MoveIt.
His endorsement drew public flak, but Pimentel said he did it to prevent a monopoly.
And just in case you were worried that this whole thing was a giant, glaring conflict of interest, Pimentel insisted in an interview with ABS-CBN News today that his new resolution wouldn’t benefit his pals over at JoyRide. Noting that the resolution is only aimed at Tham and not Angkas itself, he maintained that the sudden deportation of the company’s top executive definitely wouldn’t have any impact its operations.
“Angkas will not be affected as an entity,” Pimentel said, describing Tham as a “foreign national” who violated “many laws.” “Hence this [resolution] cannot be in favor of anybody, but the need for the foreigner to now account for her actions,” he added.
Meanwhile, in a statement sent to Coconuts Manila yesterday, the Department of Transport said that the technical working group (TWG) responsible for the moto-taxi pilot run was expanding the scheme to Metro Cebu and Cagayan de Oro, as well as more than doubling the overall driver cap from 30,000 to 63,000. The three participating firms will split a 45,000-driver cap in Metro Manila, as well as an additional 9,000 taxis in both Cebu and Cagayan de Oro, also split equally.
The department also said that if an operator has trouble using up its cap, the others can take advantage of the available slots.
The expansion was something of an abrupt reversal for the TWG. Not only had it previously — and controversially — severely restricted the number of drivers participating, it also just this week told the Senate it wanted to scrap the entire pilot early over unspecified “legal impediments.” Several senators, however, rejected the decision, and TWG Chair Antonio Gardiola later confirmed that the run would run through March 23 as previously planned.
On Twitter, the new measures have been welcomed by Angkas, who joked, “homaygad we’re still employed bois,” and thanked the Senate, Congress, and Transport Department for allowing their bikers to continue offering services.
“We look forward to the spirit of collaboration in the TWG for the success of the pilot study and the eventual passage of the law,” they said.
— Angkas (@angkas) January 22, 2020
This article, Senator insists petition calling for Angkas boss’ deportation ‘won’t affect’ taxi firm’s ops, originally appeared on Coconuts, Asia's leading alternative media company. Want more Coconuts? Sign up for our newsletters!