No franchise: Uber falls in LTFRB sting operation

Rappler.com
No franchise: Uber falls in LTFRB sting operation
Uber says the operation – which leads to a Fortuner being fined P200,000 and possibly impounded – was 'unfairly done.' The MMDA sides with the ride-sharing service company.

MANILA, Philippines – A partner car of Uber, a ride-sharing service, fell in the first sting operation conducted by the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) on Wednesday, October 22.

The franchising board said a Fortuner was fined P200,000 in the Metrowalk area of Pasig City because it didn’t have a franchise to operate as a public vehicle.

In an interview with GMA, LTFRB officer Dennis Barion said fines of P120,000 for sedans and P200,000 for utility vehicles could be imposed on cars used by Uber drivers . The vehicles may also face up to 3 months of impounding.

“It’s not the service but it’s because of…not having a franchise,” Barion added. 

Barion also said that the LTFRB was looking into going after similar transport services, like Tripid and Grabcar, which also use vehicles that do not have land transportation franchises.

LTFRB executive director Roberto Cabrera further explained in a story on Astig.ph that the LTFRB is “just being fair with legitimate franchise owners.” While the LTFRB is supportive of Uber’s cause, it is concerned about the safety of its passengers, he said.

Uber’s Philippine team responded, noting in a letter: “One of our partner’s drivers was apprehended today in a sting operation by LTFRB in coordination with local media. We believe this was unfairly done.”

“As we have always assured you – and all our partners in the 220+ cities we operate in globally – we will support you and seek swift resolution to this incident. Ever since Uber launched in Manila almost a year ago to introduce the safest and most reliable way to get around the Metro, Filipino riders have unanimously rallied behind you by taking more and more trips with you every day,” Uber’s statement added.

The Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) advised the LTFRB Thursday, October 23, to “find ways to reasonably assist transport services,” such as Uber.

It said the initiatives like Uber’s help “ease traffic in Metro Manila pending the availability of a modern mass transport system, among other things.”

MMDA chairman Francis Tolentino reasoned, “The muscle of the law and the procedural and technical arms of government agencies alone cannot resolve the lack of alternate means of transportation problem, they can only increase apprehension records.”

“Uber or hybrid carpooling is a well-meaning technology-driven effort intended for public safety and convenience that’s why people are patronizing it. We cannot curtail their mobility rights. This is similar to private bridal cars and private ambulances for rent which is a private transaction between the rider and the owner of the vehicle,” Tolentino said.

Uber is a ride-sharing service where users can take advantage of an app to request rides, as well as track where their reserved vehicle is coming from. Users of the service pay using their credit cards, with the rate calculated by a measure of distance and time spent on the road. Rappler.com

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