Pimentel wants Angkas boss declared ‘persona non grata’

Katrina Domingo, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jan 22 2020 07:52 PM | Updated as of Jan 22 2020 11:39 PM

Angkas Chief Executive Officer Angela Tham

MANILA (UPDATE) - Senator Aquilino “Koko” Pimentel III has urged the Senate to declare Angkas chief executive officer Angeline Tham as persona non grata after the Singaporean businesswoman allegedly orchestrated an “indignation rally” that paralyzed traffic in the capital region to protest policies unfavorable to her motorcycle-hailing firm.

The Senate should also probe the “high-handed, arrogant and irresponsible acts” of the Angkas chief, Pimentel said in his Senate Resolution No. 287, dated January 16, 2020.

“Tham is merely a guest of our country, yet she is already acting like an oligarch which she seems hell-bent on becoming at our expense,” Pimentel’s resolution read.

“Her acts of deriding our sovereign laws is high-handed, arrogant and irresponsible, which should not be countenanced but condemned to the fullest,” he said.

The senator was referring to Angkas’ December 22, 2019 rally wherein thousands of motorcycle drivers trooped to the People Power monument to call out the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board’s (LTFRB) decision to place a 10,000 driver cap on Angkas, the country’s largest motorcycle-hailing app.

'BLATANT TRANSGRESSIONS'

Pimentel enumerated Angkas' alleged "blatant transgressions of our laws", including Tham's supposed violation of the 40-percent foreign ownership cap prescribed by the Constitutional.

"Tham, a Singaporean, owns P9.8 million in subscribed shares or 99.996 percent of the company," the senator claimed.

Angkas chief transport advocate George Royeca earlier belied the claim, saying he owns 60 percent of the company, while 5 others, including Tham, hold the remaining 40 percent.

"It may take sometime before official records reflect the changes in Angkas' shareholder structure, Royeca said, citing operational "lag."

Pimentel noted that Angkas also said in a document filed before the Securities and Exchange Commission that it would "not operate as a public utility", but "embarked on the business of motorcycle taxis despite not having any Certificate of Public Convenience."

"It claims to have built up a motorcycle rider base totaling to 27,000 yet can only show that 2,204 of them are properly registered under the pilot testing program of the DOTr (Department of Transportation)," he said.

Pimentel earlier this month admitted endorsing motorcycle-hailing app JoyRide - a potential competitor of Angkas - to the Department of Transportation to curb the monopoly in the country’s motorcycle taxi industry. JoyRide officials earlier said it sought the help of the former Senate President to join the pilot testing of motorcycle taxis.

JoyRide’s Business Development Adviser Edwin Rodriguez is also the Secretary General of ruling PDP-Laban, where President Rodrigo Duterte sits as chairman and Pimentel is party president.

Pimentel said the legislative chamber should heed his call against Tham to “prevent similarly minded persons from bullying and misleading” the government.

"All the foregoing blatant transgressions of our laws, misleading and bullying behavior targeting Philippine government officials could only have been done with the explicit complicity of Angeline Xiwen Tham, the company's president," the lawmaker said.

ABS-CBN News has reached out to Tham, who has yet to comment. 

Authorities are in the process of studying policies that would regulate motorcycle-hailing firms as the Philippines continues to be crippled by worsening gridlocks in highly-urbanized cities.