Monday, June 24, 2019

Editorial: That P15 million assistance

Editorial cartoon by Josua S. Cabrera

IN THE recent Miss Universe pageant held in Bangkok, Thailand, live coverage of the competition aired on free and cable television stations had one notable advertiser: Angkas. Since the coverage was nationwide, Angkas must have paid millions of pesos for the commercial spots aired throughout the coverage.

Interestingly, the Cebu City Council, in a special session last Monday, Dec. 17, approved a resolution filed by Councilor Mary Ann de los Santos charging P15 million to the City’s share of the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp. (Pagcor) funds to buy sacks of rice for the estimated 6,500 Angkas and habal-habal drivers affected by the national government’s clampdown on motorcycles-for-hire.

Angkas is a ride-hailing application whose operation has the support of Cebu City Mayor Tomas Osmeña and the city government but has not been given a franchise to transport any passenger. The Department of Transportation through the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board and the Land Transportation Office has started going after Angkas and habal-habal drivers in the metro.

The P15 million appropriation is supposedly intended to help the displaced motorcycle-for-hire drivers although City Councilor Raymond Alvin Garcia is suspicious of the intention of De los Santos and Osmeña. “I am just wondering if this is meant to help the habal-habal drivers or is part of the campaign for 2019?” he asked.

Indeed, Osmeña seems to be trying to get political capital out of the aid-giving by sponsoring a mass for leaders of motorcycle-for-hire groups at the Archbishop’s Palace on Sunday, Dec. 23, with House Speaker Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo and Senate President Vicente Sotto III as guests. Arroyo and Sotto are both identified with President Duterte, who has been verbally castigating Osmeña.

In a way, Garcia could be right. The political maneuvering on this one has gotten obvious. Unfortunately for the city’s constituents, the money used in this one comes from the public coffers and not from the politicians’ pockets.


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