LTFRB slams TV host for spreading 'fake news'

MANILA, Philippines – The Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) slammed television host James Deakin on Friday, December 8, for supposedly spreading "fake news" on his Facebook page.

Speaking to reporters in their official media chatbox, LTFRB board member Aileen Lizada showed a Facebook post by Deakin, where he slammed the LTFRB for supposedly requiring too much from Transport Network Vehicle Service (TNVS) operators like Grab and Uber drivers. (READ: What's the fuss about the Grab, Uber regulation issue?)

"A dedicated mechanic. A stock of lubricants and parts. Dedicated CCTV for their garage/workshop. A dedicated safety officer. And a helper. Even if you have just one single unit...Why, LTFRB? Why?" Deakin said in his post.

In her message, Lizada said, "Fake news. Why, James, Why?"

Deakin hosts television shows focusing on automobiles and has more than 400,000 followers on his Facebook page. According to the LTFRB, Deakin misunderstood the memorandum circular.

In a statement, the LTFRB explained that the requirements Deakin enumerated were not required of Grab and Uber drivers, but of Public Utility Vehicle (PUV) fleet owners such as bus, jeepney, and taxi operators.

"To set things right, please be informed that the requirements cited by Mr Deakin are only for vehicles operating under fleet management, and not for TNVS like the vehicles operating under Grab, Uber or U-hop," the LTFRB said in a statement.

Deakin has since then edited his post, citing Grab Philippines as the source of how he understood the guidelines. LTFRB said they have reached out to Grab too.

"We, therefore, request Mr. James Deakin to uphold objectivity, accuracy, and responsible journalism in presenting his reports/opinions, through verifying details with its proper sources, so as to prevent the spread of misinformation that may delude the public," the LTFRB added.

Reacting to the LTFRB's statement in another official chatbox, this time managed by the Department of Transportation, he said the LTFRB was flip-flopping in regulating TNVS.

"The LTFRB have been treating TNVS as PUVs, but when it suits them, they are exempt?" Deakin asked.

He then shared that he had earlier been kicked out of the LTFRB media chatbox, and could have been reached for clarification.

"All this coming from an agency that refuses to respond to queries and kicked me out of their Viber group? Precious," he added. –

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.