The Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) has asked Congress to pass a law giving them the authority to regulate private vehicles that are being used by companies that offer transportation services through the Internet.

LTFRB Chair Winston Ginez wants to determine whether or not the agency has full authority over these private vehicles.

“For us, there is a need for a possible passage of a law that will regulate online transportation services.  We’ll be calling a public hearing including Uber and taxi operators to come to us and question them whether or not the LTFRB has the power or jurisdiction to regulate these online services,” said LTFRB Chair Winston Ginez.

The issue stems from the complaint of the Philippine National Taxi Operators Association (PNTOA) headed by Quezon City Councilor Bong Suntay about Uber vehicles offering transportation services without an LTFRB franchise.  This led to the apprehension of an Uber partner SUV by the LTFRB.

Based on LTFRB circulars, only private vehicles used for tourism purposes can apply for a franchise. Private vehicles not registered with the agency do not have the necessary insurance to cover commuters in the event of an accident.

Caloocan Representative Edgar Erice concurred with Ginez and motioned for the committee to draft a bill stopping the use of private vehicles for public transportation and apprehend the violators.

“This system is simply illegal. We should not tolerate them. My motion is simple: Ask the LTFRB to inform the public that this is illegal, and arrest or apprehend those violating the law,” Erice said.

Manila Congressman Amado Bagatsing, on the other hand, thinks a bill is unnecessary and the simple fact that the operation is ‘colorum’ should be reason enough to apprehend the vehicles and drivers involved.

“I speak of all vehicles that are rendering services like taxis. Huwag naman tayong exclusive sa Uber lang, though this was brought by public interest,” Bagatsing said.

Transportation committee Chairman and Catanduanes Congressman Cesar Sarmiento stressed that the lawmakers are not against using new technology to access transportation services in the country.

“The Metro Manila Development and Transportation committees are not against the introduction of applications that will improve the services and promote welfare to commuters,” said Sarmiento.