Following months of safety preparation and the recent go-signal from the Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF) for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases for motorcycle taxi operations to resume, more than 5,000 Angkas bikers took to the streets on Sunday to show their thanks to the government for its support.
From Taguig to Quezon City and then back south to Pasay, the unity ride on EDSA represented the collective gratitude of riders, whose livelihoods had been impacted by the pandemic, to Congress, the IATF, the Department of Transportation (DOTr), and President Rodrigo Duterte, for being given an opportunity to safely support the reopening of the economy.
The IATF has endorsed to the House of Representatives Committee on Transportation the request of the National Capital Region’s local chief executives asking that the Department of Transportation continue the pilot study of motorcycle taxis. Metro Manila mayors had earlier called for the resumption of motorcycle taxi services since they were vital to ferrying frontliners at the height of the pandemic. No case of viral transmission had been reported during the free transport service Angkas provided for medical frontliners. Congress, through the House transportation committee, had earlier expressed its support for the continued pilot run pending a resolution that would legitimize motorcycle taxis as a form of public transportation.
“Taos puso po kaming nagpapasalamat sa lahat ng congressmen, laluna kay Cong. Edgar Mary Sarmiento po at sa lahat ng mambabatas na nagtitiwala sa kakayahan ng Angkas laluna sa aming mga bikers, laluna rin po na Pangulong Duterte, IATF at DOTr na mabigyan ng pagkakataon kaming Angkas bikers na bigyan ng hanapbuhay at makatulong sa lahat ng naiipit sa traffic,” said Ryan Rillera, the president of motorcycle rider organization Taguig Spartans.
Rillera, an Angkas partner-driver himself, added, “Napakalaking bagay po nito sa lahat ng Angkas drivers na libu-libo ang nagtitiwala sa amin mula noon hanggang ngayon. Tatlong taon na po ako sa ganitong hanapbuhay, hindi po kami pinabayaan ng Angkas. Maraming salamat po.”
In compliance with the IATF rules against mass gatherings, the Angkas bikers rode continuously in their thanksgiving ride with no stopovers until they reached their final destination at SM Mall of Asia in Pasay.
So far, four Cabinet secretaries have already voiced their support for the resumption of motorcycle taxis. Presidential Spokesperson Sec. Harry Roque, Chief Implementer of the National Task Force (NTF) against COVID-19 Sec. Carlito Galvez, and Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) Sec. Eduardo Año met with President Duterte to flesh out a plan to increase capacity in the mass transport system, a critical component of which involves increasing the number of ride-hailing motorcycle taxis.
Moreover, T3 czar Sec. Vince Dizon lauded Angkas Chief Transportation Advocate George Royeca for his commitment to ensuring a safe reopening of the economy through his work with the Ingat Angat campaign, of which Angkas plays a key role in the promotion of safe transportation for workers and consumers during the pandemic.
Angkas has also been working closely with public health experts to guarantee the safety of riders and passengers alike against the virus, resulting in a comprehensive study by the University of the Philippines-College of Public Health (UP-CPH) which not only deems motorcycle taxis safe but also provides overall strategies and recommendations for the transport industry as a whole.
With the government’s expressed support and a potential return to regular operations happening soon, Royeca noted that Angkas is setting gears into motion and preparing all of its bikers to ensure safe and smooth operations.
“Now that the economy is slowly and safely reopening, 60% of workers are mandated to physically go back to work. However, there is only 40% of public transportation that is available to them. Angkas would be happy to bridge that gap,” Royeca said.
He added, “We are also encouraged by the bikers’ voluntary thank-you ride to our government. All of us stand ready to provide safe transportation to the public and help restore their lives to normal while reopening the economy and restoring consumer confidence.”
“We look forward to the day when we can start serving the public again,” he reiterated.