MANILA (UPDATE) - The persona non grata petition against Angkas chief executive officer Angeline Tham “will not affect” operations of the Philippines’ largest motor taxi-hailing firm, Sen. Aquilino “Koko” Pimentel III said Thursday after filing the resolution to ban the Singaporean businesswoman.
The “focus” of the resolution is Tham, “how she behaved” and “how many laws were violated by this foreign national,” Pimentel told ABS-CBN News in a text message.
“Angkas will not be affected as an entity,” he said.
“Hence this [resolution] cannot be in favor of anybody, but the need for the foreigner to now account for her actions,” he said.
The senator, in a resolution dated January 16, 2020, urged the Senate to probe Tham’s stake in Angkas, saying it has violated the Constitution’s 40 percent cap on foreign ownership.
Pimentel also called on the Senate to declare Tham persona non grata after Angkas staged an “indignation rally” that allegedly paralyzed major thoroughfares in the capital region in December 2019.
Online supporters of Angkas - one of the most active firms on social media - hit back and slammed Pimentel, saying the senator has been lobbying against the motorcycle-hailing company to make room for JoyRide, a new entity that wants to compete with Tham’s firm.
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.
The senator belied allegations that JoyRide president Neil Sherwin Yu was related to his wife Kathryna Yu-Pimentel.
“The two (Yu and Yu-Pimentel) do not know each other at all. I don’t even personally know the first Yu,” he said.
Pimentel earlier admitted that he endorsed JoyRide’s application to participate in the Department of Transportation’s pilot test run for motorcycle taxis to ensure that the industry will not be monopolized by Angkas.
"I do not have bias and favor of any current operator," the senator said.
"I might even vote against the legalization of motorcycle taxis due to safety concerns,” he said.
ABS-CBN News has reached out to Tham but has yet to receive her comment.
Several parties are expected to encourage Pimentel to withdraw his resolution as "blacklisting" a foreign businesswoman may spook other investors, Senate Economic Affairs Committee chair Imee Marcos said.
"Inaasahan ko na papakiusapan na din si Senator Pimentel at maganda naman 'yung naging meeting ng players kahapon," Marcos said.
(I expect that there will be appeals to Senator Pimentel and there was a good meeting with players yesterday.)
"Nagulat ako ng konti kasi ayaw natin ng ganun kasi kung foreign investor bina-blacklist natin baka wala na pumasok dito," she said.
(I was surprised because we don't want that foreign investors are blacklisted because that might turn them away.)
Instead of dismantling Angkas, the government should finds ways to help the firm remedy its mistakes, said Marcos, who authored a bill legalizing operations of motorcycle taxis in the Philippines.
"I think we have to live with motorcycles for a while. Gawan na lang natin ng mga (Let's just craft) regulations to make sure that there are certain precautions," she said.