Pioneering app-based motorcycle taxi service Angkas got the nod of four Cabinet secretaries for the resumption of its operation after the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF) also gave its green light, responding favorably to the request of the Metro Manila mayors. Angkas was in the last leg of the pilot service run when it had to halt its operations because of the pandemic, and the mandated safety protocols set by the government.
Angkas’ resumption of operations was first announced by no less than Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque in his regular media briefing, saying that IATF has endorsed the extension of the motorcycle taxi pilot run, pending congressional action that would allow for its legalization as a mode of public transportation. This was further reinforced in yesterday’s Ingat Angat Tayong Lahat launch when Sec. Roque was joined by Secretary Carlito Galvez, the Chief Implementer of the National Task Force (NTF) Against COVID-19, and Secretary Vince Dizon, Chief Testing Czar, in endorsing Angkas to get back on the road.
Sec. Roque congratulated Angkas Chief Transport Advocate George Royeca and explained the decision to allow Angkas operations. “We congratulate George. The IATF has endorsed that Angkas will be allowed to operate because this is the reality: we need improved transportation. We welcome Angkas’ contribution in improving transportation.”
“Recently Interior Secretary Eduardo Ano, Secretary Roque, and I met with the President to allow a one-seat apart measurement in our mass transport system to increase our capacity. Part of our plan is to increase the number of vehicles especially ride-hailing motorcycle taxis which can increase capacity to provide services to more than 400,000 workers,” said Sec. Galvez. He also added that they proposed the recommendation of Royeca to the President in light of the mayors’ feedback on how Angkas had helped transport their healthcare workers during the pandemic. There was not a single incident of virus transmission during these trips.
In a further bid to boost the public’s confidence in mobility and to return to their livelihoods, Angkas has partnered with Task Force T3 (Test, Trace, Treat) led by T3 Czar Dizon who also commended Royeca for his dedication to Ingat Angat from its inception and his determination to safely reopen the economy. He acknowledged, “Matagal nang inaayos nina George itong campaign, na kailangan sa laban sa COVID-19.”
Dizon said that the campaign speaks of the resiliency of the Filipino: “No matter what, kahit ano dumaan sa atin, ngayon pandemya, kung anu-ano man dumaan sa atin kakayanin natin. Whenever we face challenges, it’s the unity of purpose of Filipinos that will allow us to hurdle this pandemic and keep it together. Kailangan natin bumalik sa dati nating kinagawian.”
For his part, Royeca expressed his appreciation of the government’s decision for Angkas to resume operations. “We are grateful and humbled by the government’s approval for Angkas to operate again and provide safe and efficient transportation to our riding public. We are ready and eager to serve especially our commuters who are required to go back to work but are faced with a critical shortage in public transportation. Angkas would be pleased to fill that gap so that we could safely ferry our passengers to their destinations,” he said. Royeca added that this is also an opportunity for the more than 20,000 Angkas riders to resume their livelihood.
Meanwhile, Royeca emphasized that transportation is essential to the reopening of the economy especially given that only 40 percent of public transport is still available to meet the needs of 60 percent of the workforce who are now required to return to onsite locations but still anchored on safety protocols.
“Safety has always been the advocacy of Angkas as we push for inclusive transportation that is accessible to all. We continue to commit to this advocacy especially now that we are in a crisis and the people need it more than ever,” Royeca said.
He also said that in the absence of a vaccine, T3, combined with the strict observance of public health safety protocol, is the key to COVID-19 prevention which could then help in getting the economy back on its feet.
Royeca added that while its operation was sidelined by the pandemic, Angkas continued to work and collaborate with the government and regulators to ensure that once given the go-signal to resume operations, they already have plugged in all safety measures and have given their riders thorough orientation on the new safety protocols.
He reiterated that joining the Ingat Angat Tayong Lahat Campaign is the private sector’s way of saying that the COVID-19 problem is not the sole responsibility of the government but equally that of the private sector.
Royeca emphasized: “We are proud sponsors of the Ingat Angat campaign because it is more important for various sectors to come together to beat this virus and reclaim our lives. We want to join the public sector in this fight, and we are confident that by following the proper protocol and safety measures, we can reopen our economy safely and we could all go back to a new and better normal. Sa tamang pag-iingat, babangon at aangat tayong lahat!”