Ex-chairman Ginez urges LTFRB: Listen to Uber, Grab users

Rambo Talabong
This comes after #WeWantGrabUber trends for the second day, and a petition supporting app-based transport services gets more than 100,000 signatures

'COMMUTER IS KING.' Former LTFRB chief Winston Ginez says passengers need to be heard in the discussion on regulating transport network companies. File photo from AFP

MANILA, Philippines – Former Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) chairman Winston Ginez called on current officials of the agency to listen to Uber and Grab users, amid its dispute with the ride-hailing companies.

In a Facebook post on Tuesday, July 18, where Ginez recounted his time regulating the application-based transport services, he said: “Let the voices of TNVS (transport network vehicle services) users be heard.”

Ginez was the head of the LTFRB when ride-hailing firms like Uber and Grab were rising in the country.

He said they encountered “vociferous objections” from taxi operators back then, prompting them to issue memorandum circulars to regulate the TNVS. The Philippines became the first country to regulate app-based transport services. (READ: Taxis beware: Gov’t introduces 4 new transport categories)

The LTFRB on July 21, 2016, under the Duterte administration, stopped new drivers from applying for provisional authority (PA) permits.

Thousands of Uber and Grab drivers operated even without permits, however, so the LTFRB imposed a P5-million fine and set a July 26 deadline for “colorum” drivers to stop operating.

What users say

Out of 56,000 drivers estimated by the LTFRB, only 15,000 at most can remain on the road starting July 26.

With majority of Uber and Grab drivers affected, TNVS users have been coming to their defense.

Commuters have taken to social media to express anger and frustration, with #WeWantGrabUber trending on Twitter for two straight days already.

Users also backed the petition started by Bobby Coronel, president of the Uber and Grab drivers’ group, which is asking the LTFRB to begin processing new PA applications. (READ: Grab, Uber drivers ask LTFRB to lift ban on new driver applications)

So far, the petition has gotten more than 100,000 signatures, accompanied by testimonials.

A certain Rosalie Lim from Quezon City said: ” I’m signing because Grab/Uber is the safest way for me to [commute]. They gave us comfort and assurance [compared] to [taxis]. I had [so] many bad [experiences] riding [taxis]… if possible do a survey because most of the riders like me now prefer to ride [with] the comfort and safety of Grab/Uber.”

LTFRB to listen

LTFRB Chairman Martin Delgra III gave an assurance that they would consider the concerns of all commuters – not just Uber and Grab users – in an upcoming technical working group (TWG) meeting which would decide the fate of the TNVS drivers.

When asked what would happen to 80% of Uber and Grab drivers who do not have permits from July 26 onwards, he just said it would be discussed in the TWG meeting.

According to Delgra, they plan to hold the meeting before July 26, the deadline for weeding out “colorum” drivers.

LTFRB board member Aileen Lizada told reporters on Tuesday that they are still waiting for Uber and Grab to respond to their invitation. – with a report from Chrisee Dela Paz / Rappler.com

Rambo Talabong

Rambo Talabong covers the House of Representatives and local governments for Rappler. Prior to this, he covered security and crime. He was named Jaime V. Ongpin Fellow in 2019 for his reporting on President Rodrigo Duterte’s war on drugs. In 2021, he was selected as a journalism fellow by the Fellowships at Auschwitz for the Study of Professional Ethics.