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LTFRB tells Grab, Uber: 'We will not succumb to pressure'

MANILA, Philippines – The Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) fired back on Monday, July 17, as an online petition for it to grant permits to additional Uber and Grab drivers gained ground. 

The petition demands that LTFRB lift its July 21, 2016, order that closes its doors to new driver applicants for Transport Network Companies (TNCs).  

The petition of Grab and Uber drivers has so far garnered 50,000 signatures as the LTFRB decision sparked online outrage from users of the embattled transport network vehicle services (TNVS) providers.

"The board gave both the opportunity to comply to show their good faith. In the event that they refuse or fail to comply, then enforcement is in order. The board will not be influenced, it will not succumb to pressure," LTFRB board member Aileen Lozada said on Monday.

According to Grab head Brian Cu, the order might as well have been to close down their business as they need to continuously replenish their pool of drivers to accommodate "public demand."

Uber and Grab have allowed their drivers to continue plying the streets and kept on accepting new drivers even though they had expired permits or none at all, prompting the LTFRB to slap them with a P5-million fine each for negligence.

"The TNCs have a duty to explain to their peer operators [why they accredited] them without [permits] issued by the board and that they take full responsibility for putting them at risk of operating illegally," Lizada said.

To give them breathing space, the LTFRB has halted the apprehension of undocumented drivers until July 26, 2017. Lizada warned that if they will still refuse to follow their orders beyond that date, their accreditation will be put at risk.

"In the event that both TNCs will continue to defy the order, the board might be constrained to apply the full force of the law, considering that both accreditations are under review," Lizada said.

Grab's accreditation expired last July 3, while Uber's is set to expire in August. While Grab's time is up, the LTFRB allowed them to operate.

The LTFRB is now waiting for the full list of accredited drivers and the compliance of both TNCs before passing their judgment.

During their show-cause hearing on July 11, Uber and Grab admitted that around 80% of their drivers are not properly documented, but only because the "majority" of those with expired permits asking for renewal are just waiting for LTFRB's nod.

While laws remain bare in the regulation of application-based transport services, the LTFRB is currently planning a technical working group to better craft policies, as the Philippines is the first country to regulate such services. – Rappler.com

Rambo Talabong

Rambo Talabong covers security, crime, and the city of Manila for Rappler. He was chosen as a Jaime V. Ongpin Fellow in 2019 for his reporting on President Rodrigo Duterte’s war on drugs.

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