Uber survives LTFRB hearing, gets more time to defend accreditation

MANILA, Philippines – In a show cause hearing on Wednesday, August 2, the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) gave the transport network company (TNC) 5 more days to explain why they should retain their accreditation.

This comes after Uber allegedly defied the agency's July 26 order which states: "No further acceptance of additional accreditation of TNVS [Transport Network Vehicle Service providers] and/or activation of their accounts into the respondents' respective systems shall be allowed effective immediately."

In their defense, Uber representative Joseph Castillo said they interpreted the order as still allowing them to accept new drivers without accrediting them. (READ: LTFRB orders Grab, Uber to deactivate drivers registered after June 30)

Pointing to their order, LTFRB chairman Martin Delgra III said that accepting new drivers was also forbidden by the order.

"The language of the order is very clear. We need to put a stop to the false expectations [of] the public that they can still get themselves accredited, and worse, get their account activated so they can run on the road as [TNVS]," Delgra said.

LTFRB board member Aileen Lizada added that even accreditation can be done as they used the Uber website themselves to troubleshoot accreditation.

Lizada said they were able to activate 3 accounts from July 31 to August 1.

Uber asked if the LTFRB was able to book a ride through the dummy accounts, to which Lizada said they did not try. Lizada added it was enough evidence that it was indicated in the application that their accounts were "activated".

"What I find difficult to comprehend is that they can add vehicles into their accounts inside the confines of their room...I wonder how many operators are now putting vehicles in their respective accounts because this can be another way of vehicles circumventing [the LTFRB orders]," Lizada said.

When asked by the LTFRB for their side, Castillo declined to comment, requesting to be briefed further about the dummy accounts first. Castillo said they have yet to check their system to determine how many applicants they have accepted since July 26.

The hearing comes while the LTFRB is engaged in talks with Uber and other transport network giant Grab in regulating ride-hailing services.

Delgra urged Uber to be "patient" until a resolution is reached.

"On good faith, we created the technical working group to get equilibrium for supply and demand…we hope that Uber will be patient enough to wait, [to] be compliant. That's all that we are asking," Delgra added. – 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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