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For endorsing Joyride to DOTr KOKO MAY FACE GRAFT RAPS

Anjie lou delos Reyes
For endorsing new motorcycle taxi provider Joyride to the Department of Transportation (DOTr), Senator Koko Pimentel runs the risk of facing graft raps.

For endorsing Joyride to DOTr KOKO MAY FACE GRAFT RAPS
For endorsing Joyride to DOTr KOKO MAY FACE GRAFT RAPS

In a press briefing held in Manila Hotel, Atty. Trixie Cruz-Angeles showed a letter written Senator Pimentel to Department of Transportation (DOTr) Secretary Arthur Tugade last September 2, endorsing Joyride as a participant in the initial motorcycle taxi test run that was ongoing at the time.

Angeles, who also cleared Senator Bong Go of any involvement in Joyride, said that she was merely concerned about the allegations leveled against Go which moved her to post Go's disclaimer to clear his name. This was when she received a copy of Pimentel's letter of endorsement.

Joyride Training Facility
Joyride Training Facility

Angeles also showed a Google Maps photo of a huge in Marikina before it was converted to Joyride's onboarding facility. The photo, which was taken by Google Maps in January of 2019, shows a huge sign with Pimentel's photo and signature. Angeles then showed a recent photo of the same facility which is now being used by Joyride.

"So all these beg the questions: What is the real connection of Senator Koko Pimentel to Joyride? Are Neil Sherwin Yu, the president of Joyride, and Kathryna Yu-Pimentel, the wife of Senator Pimentel, related since they share the same surname? " Angeles asked.
"Another very important question is this--if Senator Pimentel was just a family friend of the owners, would he risk being accused of graft just to do a friend a favor?" Angeles added while noting that Joyride’s effort to use Senator Pimentel as a go-between to the Department of Transportation, particularly to the secretary himself, exposes the senator to a violation of Section 3(e) of Republic Act No. 3019, or the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act.

In turn, Atty. Ariel Inton of the Lawyers for Commuter Safety and Protection, stressed that legislators have no business interceding for a private party that has an application with a government entity.

"Whether overtly stated or not, the letter of Senator Pimentel has the effect of intercession for the benefit of Joyride," Inton noted. "And based on recent developments, Joyride clearly benefited from DOTr’s latest decisions," he added.

Both Inton and Atty. Raymond Fortun noted called out some irregularities that both the DOTr and the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) were guilty of. "First of all, they came up with a new Department Order or DO dated December 19, 2019, constituting a new Technical Working Group or TWG composed only of representatives from government agencies. The original civil society stakeholders were effectively eased out," Fortun revealed.

According to Fortun, the new DO constituted the new TWG and appointed Mr. Gardiola as the chairman. "But, the funny thing about it is that it was not only printed using an LTFRB letterhead (and not a DOTr letterhead), it was signed by Mr. Gardiola himself as the new chairman of the TWG and LTO Asec. Galvante," Fortun shared.

"This means that Mr. Gardiola appointed himself as the TWG chairman in his capacity as the TWG chairman," Fortun added.

Fortun also revealed that although the new DO that included the constitution of the TWG was signed on December 19, the new TWG has already been meeting since November 20th, without involving the original members.

"The DOTr and the LTFRB were all willing to do all these irregularities just so they can accommodate two new players and cut down the competitiveness of the pioneer player," Inton noted. "This begs the question, why is the DOTr seemingly favoring the two new players while putting undue pressure on Angkas? What are the reasons?" he added.
"And why is Joyride insisting that there needs to be another player in the test run so that data will come from two different sources even though their business model is almost an exact replica of the Angkas business model?' Fortun asked.
"A lot of things are unclear as of the moment, and we rely on our friends in media to dig further to find out the truth in the interest of transparency. What is clear, however, is that there was an effort by Senator Pimentel to intercede for Joyride, particularly in light of current decisions by the DOTr that seem to favor them while putting pressure on Joyride’s main competitor," Inton stressed.

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