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Friday, February 22, 2019
CEBU

Bzzzzz: New rallying cry: Ban Angkas, and habal-habal, kill Cebu's economy. A 'wolf-wolf' warning or for real?

Kris Aquino and Nicko Falcis (Photos from @krisaquino and @nix722 Instagram accounts)

FIRST, what people are talking about...

* KRIS AQUINO'S RANT. The TV-movie star's alleged recorded tirade was directed at her former managing director Nicko Falcis. What stood out in the audio material:

-- The threat to kill Falcis, made twice, in Tagalog and in English ("huwag kang babalik dito, papapatay ka ng pamilya ko" and "step foot in this country and you will be killed");

-- The disclosure that she had or could have lupus, the same ailment that then president Ferdinand Marcos suffered from;

-- Choice cuss words (e.g. "f***ing ***hole") and high-sounding claims (e.g. "the entire country trusts me").

The Kris-Nicko talk was made and recorded September 22 last year and posted online by movie star Gretchen Barreto last Monday. The source was supposedly an entertainment news site.

Tomas before lawmakers

Nobody has yet contradicted Cebu City Mayor Tomas Osmena's claim that the city's economy "would collapse" if the motorcycles for hire would stay banned as a means of public transport.

The mayor told a House committee hearing last Monday (January 14) the dire prospect for the local economy. The news report didn't cite any authoritative study about his theory and the bases for its conclusion. Mayor Tomas just mentioned the amount of money he said the BPO industry pours into Cebu's economic stream ("P7 billion a month") and the number of workers who could no longer take a "habal-habal" or Angkas ride to work ("almost half of the 150,000" BPO workers). To "hundreds of thousands" of people living in the mountain barangays, he said, it is "more than just a matter of convenience."

Hyperbole, "wolf, wolf" warning, or for real? Whatever, in any debate or conversation on the issue, the facts must be presented, not obscured or confused. The lawmakers deciding on the fate of the issue must be clarified on the facts about the operation of motorcycles for hire and their impact on the lives of city residents.

The ban on Angkas and, by necessary inclusion, "habal-habal" may yet have to show its full effects but it has been in force since last year. And the public is still to hear the business sector and the economists about the Cebu economy being capped on the knees by the Supreme Court ruling, which interpreted a long-standing policy of government inscribed in law.

Even Tomas must have said it for the first time. He did not use the sound bite in the BOPK-Angkas rally last year.

The pitch against Angkas

Another issue that needs to be sorted out by the House committee, not just in the session hall of the Cebu City Council, was that raised by Partido Barug Councilor Jun Alcover in a privileged speech last week. He wanted to exclude Angkas from the benefit of a change in policy on motorcycles for hire.

Jun must think the corporate, brand-toting Angkas is exploiting the situation of the "habal-habal" which he believes is what genuinely needs support as an enterprise of plain, hard-working individual motorcycle owners. Alcover needs to explain how a law could allow "habal-habal" to operate and yet ban Angkas, which uses the same kind of vehicle for its business, although more efficiently and in a larger scale. Lawyers call the possible barrier to Jun's proposal the constitutional requirement of equal protection.

Councilor Jun and other persons who have information or argument to bear on the issue need to talk with the House committee. Also here, in other public forums, not just in the City Council. Until it is refuted, the "killing-Cebu" prediction would stand and might scare the lawmakers into rash judgment.

***

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