File photo by Maria Tan/Rappler
MANILA, Philippines – The Department of Transportation on Thursday, July 18, ordered its attached agency Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board to allow hatchback vehicles to operate as public transport on certain conditions.
In a statement on Thursday, Transportation Secretary Arthur Tugade said the LTFRB Memorandum 2018-05 allowing hatchbacks to operate as transport network vehicle services (TNVS) until 2021 should be followed.
"Implement the existing MC until such time that the same is modified and/or amended…Kung kailangang baguhin ang ilang dokumento, baguhin. Kung kailangang i-improve, dapat i-improve. (If we need to change some documents, let's change it. If they need to be improved, let's improve it)," Tugade said.
The statement of the department comes after the several drivers and operators of hatchback vehicles have been deactivated from ride-hailing apps.
TNVS hatchback drivers claimed that about 5,000 of them were deactivated by ride-hailing firms, citing "safety concerns and convenience issues to passengers."
Transportation Undersecretary Mark de Leon said that the LTFRB will need to amend the memorandum circular, in order to legally allow hatchback units as public utility vehicles.
De Leon also said that the hatchback drivers that were previously delisted should be prioritized.
"Dapat bigyan ng priority iyong mga natanggal sa listahan dahil ‘yan ay ‘yung mga nakapag-invest na sa serbisyo. Mag-open tayo ng additional slots pero ‘wag natin pabayaan ‘yung mga natanggal sa listahan dati," De Leon said.
(We should give priority to those who were delisted because they have already invested for the service. Let's open additional slots but let's not forsake those who have been removed from the list before.)
On Monday, July 15, TNVS hatchback drivers held a "transport holiday" in protest of their deactivation.
Drivers and operators said the additional requirement on "bank conformity" and the "proof of financial capacity" made it harder for them to secure a franchise, leading to their deactivation.