Uber asks LTFRB to change suspension to fine

Camille Elemia
Uber asks LTFRB to change suspension to fine
The Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board will need one more week to hear the new request. In the meantime, Uber remains suspended.

MANILA, Philippines – Despite a Senate-led meeting with both parties, Uber and the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) failed to reach an agreement on Wednesday, August 16.

Senate public services committee chairperson Senator Grace Poe arranged the meeting in the hopes of easing the burden of passengers affected by the suspension. Uber is requesting for a change in penalty – from a one-month suspension to a fine.

While Poe said Uber is offering a “generous” deal, the LTFRB needs one more week to hear and decide on the matter.

“Masaya na medyo malungkot din. Masaya dahil sa tingin ko magkakaroon ng resolusyon na maiksi, pero malungkot din dahil ang mismong proseso ang nagpapabagal. Dahil kailangan pang maghain ng isa pang pleading ang Uber na kailangan pa desisyunan ng LTFRB dahil meron silang proseso,” Poe said.

(I’m both happy and sad. Happy because I think the issue can be resolved within a short period of time, but also sad because the process itself is a hindrance to swifter resolution. Uber still needs to file another pleading, which the LTFRB must formally decide on as part of the process.)

The senator could not hide her dismay at the government agency, saying Uber even offered “millions.”

“Ito masasabi ko, kung talagang iniisip drivers, mananakay, ang offer ng Uber ay napaka-generous dahil tinatanggap nila ang kanilang pagkakamali. Pangalawa, sinabi rin nila na kung ano ang requirements ay ibibigay nila. Sinabi rin nila ang kompensasyon sa drivers ay ibibigay nila at magbabayad pa sila ng multa,” Poe said after the meeting.

(All I can say is, if we’re thinking about the drivers, the passengers, Uber’s offer is very generous because they admit their mistake. Second, Uber also said that they would comply with the requirements. They added that they would provide compensation to their drivers and they would also pay any fine.)

Senator Paolo Benigno Aquino IV explained that since the LTFRB already rejected Uber’s motion for reconsideration on its suspension, effectively closing the case, a new petition has to be filed.

The LTFRB is set to hear the new request next Wednesday, August 23. It remains unclear how soon they can issue a decision on it. (READ: What’s the fuss about the Grab, Uber regulation issue?)

Michael Brown, Uber Technologies Southeast Asia manager, said they are willing to pay a fine “as part of rectifying what happened.” He, however, refused to give the exact amount. Poe only said it amounts to “millions.”

“The details need to be worked out but we are very willing to work with the LTFRB. We believe there was a misunderstanding. We can pay a fine as part of rectifying what happened. We will do that because our top priority is to get drivers on the road earning for themselves and to serve the people of the Philippines,” Brown told reporters.

Brown earlier apologized to LTFRB Chairman Martin Delgra III for the “misunderstanding,” in reference to Uber’s violation of the LTFRB’s order not to accredit new drivers.

Uber earlier explained it mistakenly thought that new drivers could still be accredited – just not allowed to ply the roads. (READ: TIMELINE: Why only Uber is suspended)

“It appears the order was intended to also encapsulate those who want to express interest but we were not putting cars on the road. We thought that we had met the requirement. In some ways, we were mistaken on that front… we acknowledge that. That’s what we’re here for,” Brown said.

Passengers slammed the government’s decision to suspend Uber, saying they are now left with no option but to use unreliable cabs and the poor mass transport system.

Malacañang, however, said the LTFRB is just doing its job. – 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