Tom to Angkas drivers: I will not abandon you

Tom to Angkas drivers: I will not abandon you

CEBU, Philippines — Cebu City Mayor Tomas Osmeña has vowed not to abandon the affected Angkas and motorcycles-for-hire drivers in the city.

The mayor made the promise before a throng of 6,500 drivers who attended the mass and short program initiated by the city government at the Cebu City Sports Center (CCSC) yesterday.

“Andam ko motabang sa inyong kawsa…We want to assure you, we will never, never abandon you,” Osmeña said.

The CCSC was filled with drivers wearing their respective uniforms.

He said he will write a letter to the Department of Agriculture (DOA) to allow the city government procure at least 10,000 sacks of rice from the National Food Authority (NFA) that will be given to the Angkas and habalhabal drivers.

Osmeña resorted to send a letter after he learned that the city government is not allowed to purchase sacks of rice from NFA.

“NFA is not allowed to sell to LGUs (Local Government Units). I am sending a letter to the secretary of agriculture to consider because this is a special situation. This is not a profit, this is not a business of the city government, and it’s purely financial assistance in the plight of the drivers,” he said.

Osmeña is planning to send the letter once he gets back from Dumaguete City, Negros Oriental next week.

In order to maximize the time, the city government, through the Bids and Awards Committee (BAC), will schedule a public bidding for it.

The city government has set aside P15 million for the procurement of rice charged under the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation (PAGCOR) funds.

The executive department has set guidelines for the distribution of rice to Angkas and habalhabal drivers.

“Ang importante taga dinhi gyud ta kay kwarta ni sa siyudad, ang ebidensya ana kung ikaw registered voters. Registered to Angkas and habalhabal drivers,” Osmeña said.

He is thankful that the drivers were organized already, so the city government will not be having a hard time in the profiling.

Of the 6,500 drivers, about 4,000 of them are Angkas drivers and 2,500 are habalhabal drivers.

Other than aiding the affected drivers with rice, Osmeña is planning to file a petition with the Supreme Court (SC) for the regulation of motorcycles-for-hire in the city, which he had announced earlier.

“Akong klarohon ang akong priority dili lang ang mga drivers, kung di ang mga taw nga wala sila’y sakyanan,”he said.

At present, the City Legal Office is now preparing the petition by checking the constitutionality of the regulation of motorcycles-for-hire.

But Osmeña is hopeful that the matter will be filed before the higher court as soon as possible to help the affected drivers.

Cleofe Catarina, an Angkas driver, said the recent SC decision prohibiting them to operate nationwide greatly affected their livelihood.

She said through Angkas she was able to finance the study of her two children who are in college.

“So karon akong gihangyo ang naa sa kagamhanan nga unta, please ihatag na nga ma-regulate nami, ihatag na namo kay sa tinood lang ang among nahipos (kwarta) wala na kay wala nami kabiyahe,” Catarina said.

Lyndon Obaob, a habalhabal driver, shared the same sentiments with Catarina saying he doesn’t want to ferry passengers on the streets like criminals who are afraid to be caught by the authorities.

“Kita naghangyo nga dili unta, dili ta tratohon nga mura nalang og criminal sa kalsada nga og asa og dakop, manago ta. Sa mga hingtungdan sa ahensya, himoa ug tabangi kami sa among kahimtang ug konsiderasyon nga angay kaming mabuhi sa among panginabuhi,” he said.

Earlier, the SC issued temporary restraining order (TRO) against the lower court ruling which allows Angkas to operate temporarily.

The higher court has also directed the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) to apprehend Angkas drivers who defy the order. (FREEMAN)


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