Uber to LTFRB: Don’t impose ancient rules on technological innovations

Camille Elemia
Uber to LTFRB: Don’t impose ancient rules on technological innovations
'What we are asking for is the right regulation and right process. We cannot impose 1900s level of regulation,' says Uber's Yves Gonzalez

MANILA, Philippines – Transport network company (TNC) Uber urged the Philippine government to simplify accreditation processes and let go of its ancient rules.

Yves Gonzalez, head of Uber’s public policy, said the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) should stop imposing antiquated regulations on technological innovations such as ride-hailing companies Uber and Grab. (READ: EXPLAINER: LTFRB requirements for Grab, Uber permits)

“We are not adverse to regulation. What we are asking for is the right regulation and right process. We cannot impose 1900s level of regulations, there was no smartphones, internet, ride-sharing then, on today’s technological innovations,” Gonzalez said during the Senate public services committee hearing on the issues hounding the LTFRB, Uber, Grab, and taxi companies on Thursday, August 3.

Gonzalez also hit the government agency for its “inefficient processes.”

“Let’s simplify processes. We are not against applying for accreditation. What we are against is inefficient process for TNVS (transport network vehicle services),” he said. (READ: Uber survives LTFRB hearing, gets more time to defend accreditation)

Senator Paolo Benigno Aquino IV shared a similar sentiment. For him, some policies should be changed to make taxi operators competitive, while some should be created to limit TNCs. (READ: What’s the fuss about the Grab, Uber regulation issue?)

“Maraming provision ang nagtatali ng kamay kaya ‘di sila nagiging competitive. ‘Yung focus ho ano dapat i-limit sa TNC, ano i-angat sa taxi operator para madali. Pareho lang ‘yung service, wag na tayo magbolahan. It’s the same,” Aquino said.

(There are many provisions that restrict them that’s why they don’t become competitive. The focus should be on what we can limit for the TNCs, and how we can make taxi operators more competitive. They essentially offer the same service, let’s not fool each other here. It’s the same.)

Senator Grace Poe, chairperson of the panel, also asked the LTFRB to level up its system and ways. (READ: LTFRB orders Uber, Grab to deactivate drivers registered after June 30)

“Technology and market should dictate. You should be able to regulate accordingly and not stifle the market. I know it’s difficult, market is freely evolving, but this is something you should consider,” Poe said.

Level playing field

Bong Suntay, president of the Philippine National Taxi Operators Association (PNTOA), slammed the seemingly special treatment being requested by Uber and Grab.

Suntay said there should be a level playing field for TNCs and regular taxi operators.

“We have always believed that the market is big enough for all of us to coexist [but] where fare competition can exist. We follow what is required of us,” he said.

Suntay decried the undue advantage of Grab and Uber, saying they are all in the same business but TNCs operate without regulation. (READ: LTFRB ‘shocked’ that Uber, Grab have over 100,000 drivers)

Passengers have mostly preferred riding Uber and Grab to taxis for safety and convenience. Taxi drivers have been criticized for asking higher fares or for arbitrarily declining passengers. (READ: Grab, Uber riders only a minority – LTFRB)

But Suntay argued that cab drivers only earn little because government orders taxis to use meters. On the other hand, he said Grab and Uber rely on “dynamic pricing” for fares.

Suntay also claimed that the Philippines has the lowest taxi fares in Asia.

“May mga taxi driver nagpapadagdag. ‘Pag nagpahatid sa traffic, malulugi ang driver. This is the reason why may mga taxi driver na tumatanggi maghatid,” he added.

(There are taxi drivers who ask for higher fares because if traffic is heavy, the driver would be on the losing end. This is the reason why there are taxi drivers who refuse to take some passengers.)

Uber said it is open to having its vehicles apply for franchises but not the company itself, saying the latter is not involved in the actual ferrying of passengers.

Grab likewise approves of getting franchises for TNVS. – Rappler.com

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Camille Elemia

Camille Elemia is Rappler's lead reporter for media, disinformation issues, and democracy. She won an ILO award in 2017. She received the prestigious Fulbright-Hubert Humphrey fellowship in 2019, allowing her to further study media and politics in the US. Email camille.elemia@rappler.com