JoyRide denies gov't ties in bid to rival Angkas

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Edwin Rodriguez, JoyRide's business development officer, also serves as secretary-general of a local chapter of President Duterte's political party PDP-Laban.

Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, January 2) — New motorcycle taxi service JoyRide has denied any links to the Duterte administration, as it admitted to having an official of the president's political party at its helm and once asking a senator for help.

"Wala pong kahit na sinong tiga-gobyerno na miyembro ng JoyRide [No one from government is part of JoyRide]. We want to put that very, very clear," JoyRide Vice President for Operations Noli Eala said in a media briefing Thursday.

JoyRide is one of two new entrants authorized by the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) to offer motorcycle rides for hire in Metro Manila and in Cebu, as part of an extended pilot run before the service is legalized.

JoyRide would be entering the market dominated by Angkas, which already had a six-month trial run late last year. The new service has raised eyebrows amid supposed ties to presidential aide now Senator Christopher "Bong" Go, who has denied that he owns the company.

Some netizens have questioned JoyRide's origins when the LTFRB announced its entry in the motorcycle taxi market, with even early calls to boycott the company sprouting on social media.

Eala clarified that JoyRide is backed by two "low-key" businessmen: Ralph Nubla Jr., president of Echague Realty Corp. and director of the Philippine Bank of Communications; and Bea Chua, who is behind logistics firm Happy Move. He described them as involved in banking, real estate, and wholesale and retail trade.

PDP ties?

The motorcycle taxi service also dismissed ties to President Rodrigo Duterte's political party, PDP-Laban.

Edwin Rodriguez, JoyRide's business development officer, is secretary-general of PDP-Laban Quezon City chapter. He was seen bringing Quezon City Rep. Onyx Crisologo and ANAKALUSUGAN party-list Rep. Michael Defensor — both PDP-Laban alllies in Quezon City — in inspecting JoyRide's training facilities.

"Hindi ako lumapit sa kanila (PDP-Laban) para maimpluwensyahan at humingi ng tulong para makapasok ang JoyRide [I did not approach PDP-Laban to ask them to help usher in the entry of JoyRide]," Rodriguez said.

The pilot run has been designed to collect data for Congress, which will craft a law formally allowing motorcycle taxi services in the country.

Eala defended this appointment, saying Rodriguez had "logistics expertise" which landed him the post.

READ: Inter-agency body eyes to finish motorcycle-taxi pilot program before March

Eala also admitted that his team once wrote to the office of Senator Aquilino "Koko" Pimentel III — whom he called a "family friend" of the owners — in September to ask for help in reaching out to the Department of Transportation. Pimentel is PDP-Laban president.

"It was simply because we needed a way to send our letter faster to the Department of Transportation and we were hoping he could help. He made this recommendation on his own personal volition and it was not because of any other consideration," Eala said, adding that Pimentel simply forwarded their letter to the agency.

Recruitment on track

JoyRide said it is hiring more drivers, but denied it is poaching from competitors.

"We have never gotten any rider from Angkas. We will continue to build our own fleet based on our program," Eala said, but noted that they are willing to accept applicants from their rival firms if ever. "Kung meron pong gustong sumali sa amin [If others want to join us] from other rider groups, they are welcome but they have to go through our processes again."

JoyRide requires all partner-drivers to go through driving tests and training as well as safety seminars before they are allowed to offer rides to the public.

He added that they have 1,493 riders online as of December 31, with 5,414 others waiting activation. Eala said JoyRide targets to fulfill the 10,000 rider slots given to them by LTFRB by February, giving them around two months to offer rides before the pilot run ends March 23.

The LTFRB announced last month that it is capping the number of riders equally among Angkas, JoyRide, and MoveIt for the trial period, where it will assess the pros and cons of running motorcyle taxi services.

Motorcycles or habal-habal rides have become the quick fix for commuters battling heavy traffic in Metro Manila and Cebu's roads.

Move It speaks up

Tthird motorcycle service provider Move It has also disclosed ownership, saying the company is owned by We-Load Transcargo Corporation.

Its president and chief executive officer Francis Juan began in the jeep assembly business before opening Pier One Bar and Chic-Boy Restaurant.

CNN Philippines Correspondent Carolyn Bonquin contributed to this report.