Antitrust body fines Grab Philippines anew

MANILA, Philippines (3rd UPDATE) – Antitrust body the Philippine Competition Commission (PCC) imposed a P6.5 million fine on ride-hailing giant Grab Philippines for violating its commitments to the agency over the Uber deal.

When Grab bought Uber's Southeast Asia operations, the PCC warned of a "virtual monopoly" on the industry, therefore binding the ride-hailing firm to fair pricing conditions and service quality commitments.

"We fined P6.5 million on Grab Philippines for submitting deficient, inconsistent, and incorrect data for the monitoring of its compliance with its voluntary commitments," said PCC Chairman Arsenio Balisacan on Friday, January 25.

He said that Grab should be able to submit "correct, sufficient, consistent, and timely" data to be able to monitor pricing commitments. (READ: Months after Uber left, where are the new ride-hailing firms?)

PCC Commissioner Johannes Bernabe explained that the failure to submit the needed data "prevented the PCC and the 3rd party body' from monitoring the pricing commitments.

The data to be submitted should be able to determine whether Grab fares deviated from its usual pricing after Uber left.

The decision was issued Tuesday, January 22 but Grab received it on Wednesday, January 23.

The PCC said Grab should submit the necessary data 5 days after receipt of the order which will be on Monday, January 28.

The ride-hailing giant has until February 7 to file a motion for reconsideration on the fine.

The PCC approved the Grab-Uber deal but bound Grab to commitments, as if Uber were still operating in the Philippines. It chose top UK audit firm Smith & Williamson to monitor Grab's compliance.

In October 2018, the anti-trust body had fined both Grab and Uber a combined P16 million for causing "undue difficulties" in the review of the acquisition deal.

'We will appeal'

Grab Philippines in a statement Friday afternoon, January 25, said it will file a motion for reconsideration on the penalty.

The ride-hailing giant said that it was "working under very limited timelines" to meet PCC's deadline on the required pricing data after the Uber buyout.

"Three out of 4 penalties were set at a maximum amount of P2 million pesos each. Given the breakdown of the fines vis-a-vis the severity of the lapses alleged by the PCC, we would like to better understand PCC's rationale for imposing a maximum penalty," Grab Philippines head Brian Cu said.

PCC said that Grab "did not have a complete set of historical pricing coefficient" which will be used to determine whether Grab fares deviated from its usual pricing after Uber left.

PCC said "this was not made known" to them by the ride-hailing giant.

In response, Grab said that it will reconcile their data structure with the PCC, "given enough time."

Grab assured that it is charging fares "within the range" allowed by the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board. – Rappler.com

Aika Rey

Aika Rey covers the Philippine Senate for Rappler. Before writing about politicians, she covered budget, labor, and transportation issues.

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