House set to harmonize eight bills on ride-hailing firms

The House committee on transportation has approved the creation of a technical working group (TWG) that will harmonize four bills and four resolutions seeking to regulate the operation of transportation network companies (TNCs) and transportation network vehicles services (TNVS) in the country.

Executives from the ride-hailing firms take their oath during the House hearing last week. Photo credit: HOR

Executives from the ride-hailing firms take their oath during the House hearing last week. Photo credit: HOR

Catanduanes lone district rep. Cesar Sarmiento, committee chairman and head of the TWG, said the pending bills will simply legalize or formalize the existing situation by allowing the operation of TNCs and TNVS but subject to the regulation of the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB).

“Despite the benefits TNCs and TNVS offer, the government still needs to regulate them to ensure the roadworthiness of the vehicles, the qualifications of their drivers, the reasonability of their prices, the protection of passengers and the payment of fees and taxes. All of these must be ensured in the context of solving the traffic crisis and considering the interest of all Filipino commuters, not just TNCs and TNVS users,” said Sarmiento.

PBA party-list rep. Jericho Jonas Nograles said his bill seeks to recognize TNCs and prescribe requirements, guidelines, and standards for their operation.

“The regulation of TNCs is intended to ensure the promotion of safety and welfare of the commuting public, and at the same time maximize innovations in technology and the advantages that TNCs can offer in helping alleviate the suffering of commuters and promote the country’s transportation industry,” said Nograles.

“Talagang magulo yung past dahil walang existing legislation (governing the TNCs and TNVS). Magtulungan na lang tayo. I want to ensure that our hearing will give clarity to the situation,” he said.

ANAC IP party-list rep. Jose Panganiban Jr. said with the anarchy in the transportation industry, Congress has to exercise its franchise-giving powers.

“Considering Department Order 2015-11 that created TNC and TNVS, which specifically provided that while TNVS applicants are being accredited by the TNC, the LTFRB is further directed to accede to the TNCs while waiting guidance from the legislature regulation of the new industry and promulgation of guidelines for their accreditation,” said Panganiban.

Ako Bicol party-list rep. Rodel Batocabe, whose HB 4891 is also authored by Reps. Alfredo Garbin, Jr. and Christopher Co, said the bill’s intention is to ensure that regulation is not a hindrance but continues to be the safety net that the public can rely on for their protection.

“The bill defines the nature of TNCs and TNVS. They must be responsible for the service they provide and be held liable for any breach on the contract of carriage. The bill also provides standards in the accreditation of transportation network service providers and ensure the qualification of their drivers. It also requires them to issue electronic receipts for passenger safety and taxation purposes,” said Batocabe.

LTFRB chairman Martin Delgra III said a JICA study in 2015 showed there are about 21.5 million daily ridership in Metro Manila, 70 percent of that are taking public transportation.

Delgra said they are looking at a daily ridership of 115,000 each or 300,000 rides per day. “You relate that to the 70 percent of 21.5 million daily ridership as of 2015, that will only constitute 1.5 or 1.6 percent,” he said.

Brian Cu of Grab Philippines said his company serves about 152,000 people daily. He said 180,000 are trying to get a ride daily called booking.

Lawyer Yves Gonzales, head of policy at Uber Philippines, said Uber serves 1 million to 1.2 million riders every month.

The LTFRB also asked Uber and Grab about the relative age of their vehicles. “The average age is one-and-a-half years, so basically 2016 model. We’re actually putting more new cars on the road,” said Delgra.

As for joining fees, Cu said there is no such requirement for Grab. “The payment is for the franchise and legal fees involved in applying for their PA (provisional authority). The amount of P5,600 is what the partners pay to apply,” he said.

Gonzales said similar to Grab, there is no joining membership fee with Uber. “The costs that are incurred by TNVS as partners are all for third party, meaning to say hindi sa amin napupunta. So ‘yun pong costs, for example CPC application, affidavit of application, DTI registration, nandun po lahat ng costs. So as of now ang nakikita naming costs sa pag-apply ng prangkisa aabot sa computation namin na P15,680, pinagsamasama na po ang mga regulatory fees to get a franchise,” said Gonzales.

Cagayan de Oro City second district rep. Maximo Rodriguez said now is the time to come up with a proper framework with parameters for safety and liability.

“We are looking at millennials who are now coming up with innovations. We have to adjust a little and see how it will fit. In the meantime, we enjoy these innovation and new technology. To taxis, why not apply this app to you with this technology around us? It is the safety (issues) that we are concerned about,” said Rodriguez.

Rodriguez said his niece was left for dead in Payatas with five stab wounds from a taxi whose driver left because another taxi came.

“And he (driver) was only caught because he got the ATM (card) and withdrew from the bank. The perception of my family is never to ride a taxi. But that has to be changed with this kind of proper framework that we are doing,” said Rodriguez.

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