More is better

HIDDEN AGENDA - Mary Ann LL. Reyes - The Philippine Star

Last August, Grab Philippines announced that it has acquired the business operations of Move It Philippines, a company that provides, among others a motorcycle ride hailing service within Metro Manila and adjacent towns via a mobile app.

According to Grab, it will help Move It further scale its existing motorcycle taxi fleet and improve the efficiency of its platform to help serve more commuters and create at least 6,000 meaningfull opportunities for more driver-partners within three months.

Grab Philippines also said it will work with Move It to further enhance its safety and service quality standards to be at par with Grab motorcycle taxi services across Southeast Asia.

Move It will however be independently operated using its existing technology and app.

Grab Philippines country head Grace Vera Cruz back then said as one of the first tech platforms that firmly believed in the potential and value of the Philippine market 10 years ago, they are doubling down on their commitment to outserving the needs of the Filipino people. She said that through Move It, they will create more livelihood opportunities, spur greater economic activity, and help improve every Filipino’s daily commute.

Meanwhile Transportation Secretary Jaime Bautista said that it is not reviewing Grab Philippines’ acquisition of Move It since it is a private transaction and that the department is looking instead into how they can operate more safely and efficiently.

Currently, only three motorcycle firms are allowed to operate and participate in the department’s motorcycle taxi pilot program. These are Angkas, Joyride and Move It.

Grab’s acquisition of Move It paved the way for the former’s entry into motorcycle taxi operations. But Move It chairman Francis Juan said Grab, by acquiring Move It, does not become a fourth player. He explained that Move It, since it has its own legal personality, owns its accreditation as a motorcycle taxi business and this accreditation stays with it regardless of who owns the company.

A group of motorcycle taxi drivers asked the House of Representatives to look into Grab’s acquisition of Move It, saying appropriate regulations should first be established for such a transaction. Arangkada Rider Alliance chairman Rod Cruz explained that what the driver groups want is for the pilot study under the DOTr that began three years ago with the purpose of drafting a law that governs the operation of motorcycle taxis be concluded first.

Grab’s acquisition likewise does not need prior approval of the Philippine Competition Commission since according to the PCC, the transaction likely did not breach the P1-billion threshold for compulsory notification. Thus, the parties need not wait for PCC approval to consummate the transaction.

During a congressional hearing, Ann Albana, representing Move It, said the acquisition of Move It by Grab Philippines complies with the law and does not violate any requirement of the Motorcycle Taxi Technical Working Group, as the two parties obtained all regulatory approvals.

Albana added that the allegations against the acquisition deal were misplaced and based on speculations and conjectures.  She said Move It would continue to hold the accreditation provided by the TWG, and after the acquisition, Grab and Move It would continue to exist as two distinct and separate entities.

She also reassured that Move It continues to follow the fare matrix.  Move It charges less than Angkas’ fare on the same route. The Payatas-Makati fare on Angkas for instance is about P350, or P50 higher than Move It for the same route.

CitizenWatch Philippines believes that Grab’s acquisition would ultimately benefit the riding public and would foster competition among motorcycle taxi apps.

Group convenor Time Abejo said players in any given field must not shun competition but instead welcome it as an opportunity to improve themselves and strive to work better for the public.

He noted that the investment deal between Grab and Move It was conceived as a response to the difficulties encountered by the riding public especially as the economy reopens and schools resume face-to-face classes.

As the government begins to realize the value of motorcycle taxi service as an alternative and efficient means of public transportation, it is time to open the sector to other players.

But it is not only Move It that has received a shot in the arm in terms of investments.

Angkas, operating under DBDOYC Inc., saw its assets surge more than five times from only P89 million in 2020 to P588.23 million in 2021. This was largely due to a capital infusion of more than P500 million presumably by Malaysian private equity firm Creador, as a certain Omdr Mahmoud is now a director of DBDOYC. Omar Mahmoud is a managing director of Creador Capital Group.

Documents with the Securities and Exchange Commission show that on Nov. 19, 2021, the company received a deposit for future stock subscription from an additional stockholder amounting to P503.87 million for subscription of preferred shares which will have the same rights and privileges as the common shares.  The company filed for the increase in its authorized capital with the SEC on Dec. 15, 2021.

Angkas initially opposed the entry of other players such as JoyRide and Move It, but the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board prevailed upon it and decided to allow the two other players to break the monopoly.

Despite the entry of these players, Angkas still controls more than 50 percent of the market to this day, with 27,000 accredited drivers.

KOICA-UNICEF partnership

A partnership between the Korea International Cooperation Agency (KOICA) and the United Nations Children’s fund (UNICEF) which started in 2018 has already made a significant impact on the lives of children and households in the provinces of Samar, Northern Samar and Zamboanga del Norte.

From 2018 to 2022, the Republic of Korea through KOICA and UNICEF implemented the program “Integrated Nutrition and Health Actions for the First 1,000 Days” (F1KD program).

Across the three project provinces, there was a notable improvement in diet of young children, with the minimum acceptable diet increasing from 15 to 18 percent. Exclusive breastfeeding rose to 71 percent, and early initiation of breastfeeding, within one hour of birth, increased significantly from 77 to 82 percent.

For postnatal care (within 48 hours), there was an increase from 76 to 83 percent. Coverage of Vitamin A services likewise went up from 50 to 76 percent and deworming, from 46 to 61 percent.

Households with improved sources of drinking water increased from 95 to 97 percent.

KOICA Philippines country director Kim Eunsub said that they have accomplished remarkable milestones especially at the national level to improve the policy and governance environment for maternal, infant and child nutrition in the first 1,000 days.

F1KD, with a total budget of $6.7 million, was designed to provide a more responsive enabling policy and governance environment, to strengthen systems for the delivery of quality and comprehensive nutrition and health and to improve knowledge, attitudes, and practices of pregnant women, mothers, and caregivers in the 19 project areas on maternal and child nutrition and health.

UNICEF Philippines representative Oyunsaikhan Dendevnorov noted that while undernutrition in the Philippines remains a serious problem, the support of the government of Korea through the ‘F1KD’ program strengthened ownership and governance at all levels to ensure every child’s right to survive and thrive.



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