Angkas bikers and senatorial candidates from a wide range of political parties gathered in the Angkas Safety Fiesta to jointly push for the welfare and protection of the 18-million-strong biker community.
The Cainta-based event, which was packed by 3,000 bikers, also signaled the trailblazing ride-hailing service provider’s preparation to provide alternative transport due to the imminent return of pre-pandemic traffic in Metro Manila following the lowering of COVID-19 restrictions.
“An estimated 99% of motorcycle owners are low-income breadwinners. Motorcycles are at the center of their road to economic freedom and financial independence,” explained Angkas CEO George Royeca. “It is for this reason that we have invited candidates from every party. The welfare and livelihoods of 18 million Filipinos—and the families they support—are issues that cut through party divisions and affect all of us. Whatever your political inclinations are, we hope that 18 million kagulongs are part of the national agenda,” he added.
Angkas pioneered the motorcycle taxi industry in 2016 and gave the beginnings of legitimacy and professional regulation to tens and thousands of habal-habal riders who were previously criminalized by the government. Many challenges still face motorcycle bikers on a daily basis from lack of bike-friendly infrastructure, livelihood benefits, and the proper system to protect them from being regarded and treated as second-class citizens on the road. “There are 18 million bikers in the country, three times the number of cars. Unfortunately, roads are not optimized for bikers,” pointed out Royeca.
Free legal service counsel and senatorial candidate Chel Diokno supported this.
Former presidential spokesman and senatorial candidate Harry Roque pointed out that Angkas can help revitalize the economy similar to the way that its bike counterpart in Thailand has been key to its thriving tourism industry.
Seeking a return to the Senate this year, JV Ejercito, a longtime supporter of Angkas and a biker himself, confirmed Angkas’ contributions to the economy, addressing them directly.
Among Angkas’ first hurdles to wide acceptance was the common perception that motorcycles are inherently unsafe. To overcome this, Angkas provided free training for over 150,000 applicant bikers, 70% of whom actually failed. As a result of its uncompromising standards, the company has maintained a safety rating of 99.997% even after millions of rides. This convinced the government to take a second look at the motorcycle-riding sector and consider legitimizing the motorcycle taxi industry.
The success of the Angkas business model complemented by its strict safety training protocol has led to tens of thousands of new biker entrepreneurs who make at least PHP 1,500-2,000 a day or PHP 45k-60k monthly which is up to three times the minimum wage. Best of all, because they are entrepreneurs, these bikers control their working hours and have time for other important things such as family time.
Former Philippine National Police (PNP) chief Guillermo Eleazar acknowledged Angkas’ accomplishment: “…’Yung presence ninyo, naiba ang landscape ng transportation sa Metro Manila pati na sa buong Pilipinas.”
Seeking re-election, Senator Risa Hontiveros cited the need to constantly dialog with the motorcycle entrepreneur sector to learn their needs, and address these in the form of appropriate legislation.
In the time of COVID-19, motorcycle entrepreneurs proved invaluable to the economy in general, and in the day-to-day lives of people in particular. Motorcycles have been the very engine that has been driving commerce even in the strictest lockdowns. Former Ifugao governor and senatorial candidate Teddy Baguilat of the Liberal Party pointed out.
Angkas bikers in particular have stepped up and become heroes providing critical services to those who need them, supporting and partnering with different government agencies, and ensuring that our frontliners get fast and safe to the hospitals and back to their homes, often at great personal risk.
Senatorial candidate Dr. Minguita Padilla suggested potentially life-saving applications for motorcycle entrepreneurs.
Baguilat noted from conversations with tricycle drivers that spare part shortages for their motorbikes have become a problem: “We have to look into how we can manufacture locally made spare parts kung kakayanin.”
Senatoriable and actor Robin Padilla who is running for Uniteam and who is also an avid biker, pointed out that fuel prices are bikers’ biggest problem. He vowed to do something about it.
Other noteworthy candidates who addressed the crowd were Senator Win Gatchalian represented by Jerry Esplana; Congresswoman Cristal Bagatsing of Manila City’s 5th District; Senatorial hopefuls John Castriciones, Samira Gutoc, Alex Lacson represented by wife Pia Lacson, Greco Belgica, Ariel Lim; and the Abante Pilipinas Party List. Senatorial Jopet Sison was also in attendance. Senatoriables Alan Peter Cayetano and Joel Villanueva sent messages of support.