Solons wants LTFRB probed for Uber controversy

Solons wants LTFRB probed for Uber controversy image

Text: Eric Tipan / Photos: | posted October 28, 2014 07:34

LTFRB move questioned and accreditation for Uber is pushed

Since news broke about the Land Transport Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) clamping down on rideshare service Uber, netizens and even government officials have strongly expressed their opinion on the matter.

Majority of private citizens and even Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) Chairman Francis Tolentino were supportive of Uber and the innovation it brings to private citizens looking for alternative means of transportation.

An inquiry in the House of Representatives is the latest development and it will be initiated within the week, at the latest, by Kabataan Partylist Representative Terry Ridon.

"The LTFRB should reconsider its position on suspending the operations of Uber.  Technology and government regulation need not clash with each other. LTFRB should find means for Uber to operate legally. It can, for example, explore the possibility of issuing special permits for Uber vehicles.  LTFRB might be correct in asserting its regulatory power over Uber, yet it should not hamper the development of such alternative modes of transportation. Instead, it should find ways to let Uber operate legally," Ridon said.

A special procedure for compliance is what Congressman Win Gatchalian of Valenzuela City is proposing to the LTFRB.  “I suggest that LTFRB create a special procedure for Uber providers instead of making it difficult for them. These providers provide a special service that common carriers cannot fulfill. There is a big demand for their type of service.  Uber is not competing with the regular taxicabs since the online service is catering to high-end clients and Uber’s system came about because of this need.  The LTFRB should embrace technology and not kill it. We will see more of this type of mobile applications and crowd sourcing in the future since high-end and discriminating clients want clean, safe and efficient public transport system. Uber fulfills this need he said,” Gatchalian said.

Deeming that Uber vehicles should be covered by a franchise, the LTFRB started impounding the company’s vehicles last week in a sting operation and levied upon them the corresponding fine.

Impounded vehicles will be in the custody of the Land Transportation Office (LTO) for three months while sedans fill have to pay a Php120,000 fine and SUVs Php200,000.

Chairman Winston Ginez of the LTFRB on the other hand defended the agency’s position.  “It appears that we are stopping or cannot keep up with technology but that’s not the case,” Ginez said.

In the spirit of fairness, the LTFRB is now reviewing the online services offered by GrabTaxi and EasyTaxi.  “These (online transportation service) are all new. There has been no precedent case,” Ginez added.