Drivers file P5-M suit vs Nograles over Grab P2/min issue

MANILA, Philippines – A group of ride-hailing services drivers filed a P5-million damage suit against PBA Partylist Representative Jericho Nograles over the suspension of the controversial P2-per-minute charge by Grab Philippines.

On Monday, August 20, the TNVS Driver and Operator led by Winson Esteras filed the case at a regional trial court in San Mateo, Rizal, against Nograles for what they deemed were the lawmaker's accusations that led to "reduced income for the drivers."

They also demanded that the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) reinstate the P2-per-minute charge.

"Sinubukan naming habaan ang aming oras sa kalsada para mapunan ang kakapusan sa aming kita simula nang nireklamo ni Congressman Jericho 'Koko' Nograles ang time component sa pamasahe na malaking tulong sa aming mga drivers," they said.

(We tried to clock in longer hours on the road to make ends meet since Congressman Jericho "Koko" Nograles complained about the time component of the fares that has been a huge help for us drivers.)

"Umulan-umaraw, pagod po kami sa pagmamaneho. Umulan-umaraw, hirap na rin ang mga pasahero na kumuha ng masasakyang TNVS (transport network vehicle services). Hindi na po namin kaya," they added.

(Rain or shine, we get tired from driving. Rain or shine, passengers find it hard to book TNVS rides. We can't take this anymore.)

In April, Nograles accused the company of illegally charging an additional P2-per-minute travel charge on top of its government-approved rate.

LTFRB has since suspended the charges. (READ: Did Grab 'illegally' charge its riders higher fare?)

The LTFRB also imposed a P10-million fine on Grab, and ordered the company to reimburse its riders by way of rebates.

In a statement, Nograles said that the case filed against him was an "act of desperation" to reinstate the P2-per-minute charge.

"The P5-million damage suit against me is nothing more than an act of desperation in retaliation to the recent LTFRB Order declaring the charges of Grab Philippines as illegal. It comes as no surprise as there is no end to the greed of a company that demands slave-like hours and immoral commission rates from its drivers," Nograles said.

"I call on the LTFRB to demand that Grab refund the billions of pesos in illegal charges, as ordered and without any further delay," he added.

Grab denied a hand in the filing of case, saying it was the "TNVS drivers who were greatly affected."

Under the government-approved fare scheme issued in December 2016, Grab Philippines can only charge a flagdown rate of P40 and an additional P10 to P14 per kilometer. Last January, Grab applied for a 5% fare hike.

The LTFRB recently approved 5 new ride-hailing companies, but Grab still dominates the market after its acquisition of Uber. (READ: How much are the fares of new ride-hailing apps?– 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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