120,000 signatures back Grab, Uber petition vs LTFRB

MANILA, Philippines – Grab and Uber drivers filed with the Department of Transportation on Friday, July 21, a petition against the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB), backed by 122,887 signatures gathered online.

"We, leaders of transport network service providers, respectfully ask the [LTFRB] to give amnesty to our colleagues who have no provisional authority and to lift the suspension order on [Transport Network Vehicle Service] (TNVS) applicants," TeamSpeed president Bobby Coronel said, reading the petition he initially posted online.

They appealed to the LTFRB to lift its July 21, 2016, order, which bars TNVS applicants from getting provisional authority permits (PAs) from the agency.

Without PAs, new drivers waiting for the processing of their TNVS franchises cannot ply the roads. Citing "public demand," however, Grab and Uber continued to accept new drivers and let them ply the metro's roads even with expired or without PAs. 

Of 42,000 Grab and Uber drivers, 26,600 have expired or no permits.

The LTFRB issued a July 11, 2017, order, slapping both transport network companies (TNCs) a P5-million fine each, and marked July 26 – Wednesday next week – as the start of apprehension of drivers without proper documents.

Grab and Uber put the apprehension day on hold as they filed motions for reconsideration of the July 11 order. However, the order which put the PA moratorium remained in effect.

In their defense, the drivers accredited only by TNCs and not by LTFRB said they also underwent screening in obtaining their accreditation.

"After undergoing stringent screening, training, and drug tests, we received our accreditation from our [TNCs].... Even though many in our ranks do not yet have a PA, it is hard to consider us as fly-by-night 'colorum' drivers. Remember we underwent screening, training, NBI clearance, and drug tests," their statement said.

Receiving their petition, DOTr Undersecretary for Roads Thomas Orbos said he cannot assure them anything but their "best effort" to resolve the regulation deadlock.

He said he will push for their inclusion in the upcoming technical working group talks, where so far only the LTFRB, Grab, and Uber representatives are included.

"I will take it up with the LTFRB. They (drivers) are stakeholders. So, definitely. I am not saying anything, that's a decision that [the LTFRB needs] to make, but definitely they need to be heard," Orbos said.

The group initially gathered signatures manually but later put the petition online where it got overwhelming support from users of the ride-hailing applications. – 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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