Angkas asks Supreme Court to lift TRO, dismiss petition

Mike Navallo, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Dec 21 2018 12:24 PM

MANILA -- Motorcycle ride-hailing firm Angkas on Friday said it asked the Supreme Court to lift the temporary restraining order it issued in early December which allowed transport authorities to apprehend its riders.

In separate filings with the high court, Angkas said the SC’s TRO has no basis as Angkas is not a “public utility” or a “common carrier” subject to regulation by the Department of Transportation (DOTr) and the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB).

It also claimed there was also no urgent need or threat of a “grave and irreparable injury” which would justify the issuance of the TRO.

Angkas filed a motion to lift the TRO on December 13, a day after news broke out that the SC has issued a TRO preventing the Mandaluyong Regional Trial Court Branch 213 from implementing its August 20 ruling.

The August 20 order, granted the plea of Angkas operator DBDOYC, Inc, for a writ of preliminary injunction which would prevent officials from LTFRB and DoTr from arresting Angkas bikers. 

The TRO also required Angkas to file its comment to LTRFB’s petition before the SC questioning the Mandaluyong court order. Angkas filed its comment by mail on December 17.

NO BASIS FOR SC TRO

In its motion, Angkas said there was no justification for the issuance of the TRO because the LTFRB and DOTr failed to cite any urgent need to prevent a grave and irreparable injury, arguing only that the Mandaluyong court’s order “arbitrarily and capriciously pared down” their regulatory powers.

It presented statistics highlighting its safety record, refuting DOTr and LTFRB’s safety concerns. 

Angkas said out of over 5.8 million rides since it resumed operations in September, no incident resulted in death, coma and severe injury. Meanwhile, only 0.003 percent had resulted in minor injuries such as scratches, bruises and abrasions. 

Public affairs head George Royeca earlier said Angkas was even safer than a condom, citing the platform’s track record. 

On the contrary, Angkas said it is the livelihood of its 25,000 riders and its survival as a business that is at risk.

It urged the SC to lift the TRO and dismiss the petition.

NOT A PUBLIC UTILITY OR COMMON CARRIER

In its 26-page motion, Angkas said it is neither a public utility nor a common carrier subject to regulation.

Under the law, a public utility is a business or service engaged in regularly supplying the public with some commodity or service of public consequence, such as transportation. A common carrier, meanwhile, refers to a person or firm engaged in the business of transporting passengers or goods by land, water or air, for compensation, offering their services to the public.

Angkas argued that it merely “pre-arranges,” through its mobile application, the ride between an Angkas-accredited biker and a potential passenger, characterizing the ensuing transaction as a private transportation contract, not within LTFRB’s power to regulate.

The operator “does not own a single motorcycle and the accredited drivers are not employees,” Angkas said in its motion.

The DOTr and LTFRB had argued that under section 7 of Republic Act No. 4136 or the Land Transportation and Traffic Code, private vehicles could not be used “for hire” by private persons for any kind of transport of goods or persons.

But, in its 51-page comment, Angkas said “for hire” under this provision means “for public use” which does not apply to Angkas since the arrangement is purely private.

Angkas cited DOTr’s own department order which allegedly acknowledged that the law has yet to regulate this type of transactions.

Department Order No. 2015-11 required a transport network company to accredit with the LTFRB “while waiting for guidance from the legislature regarding regulation of this new industry.”

That same department order, Angkas pointed out, did not even include motorcycles in its provisional regulatory framework.

Angkas, meanwhile, vowed to comply with the TRO but did not say it will stop operations. Instead, Royeca said Angkas “will give assistance to our bikers under the confines of the law.”