Poe hits LTFRB suspension order on Uber as ‘cruel, absurd’

Sen. Grace Poe lashed out on Monday, Aug. 14, against the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) for imposing a one-month suspension on Uber, just more than a week after she presided over a Senate hearing over the accreditation of ride-hailing firms.

Sen. Grace Poe (right) and Sen. Bam Aquino during the recent Senate hearing on ride-hailing firms

Sen. Grace Poe (right) and Sen. Bam Aquino during the recent Senate hearing on ride-hailing firms

“The decision of the LTFRB to suspend Uber is both cruel and absurd, to say the least. I am aghast that this agency that committed before the Senate to resolve the issues has just imposed a cure that will only make the disease much worse,” Poe said in a statement.

The lawmaker said the agency’s move does not solve the problem but further exacerbates it as commuters now do not have a safe and convenient transportation option. “The penalty should not further prejudice the public and place the riders’ wellbeing at risk by limiting their options,” she stressed.

The senator pointed out the issue was not about roadworthiness but one that involves a mere administrative violation, which should have merited a corresponding administrative penalty.

The ruling disenfranchises close to 200,000 riders a day with the imposition of a blanket suspension against the operation of Uber along with all its accredited vehicles for one long month, she noted.

“The suspension order is a defiance of the LTFRB officials’ commitment to provide a solution to the issues surrounding TNVS operations that will be for the benefit of the riding public,” the solon said.

“When the Senate Committee on Public Services, during the last hearing, asked them to straighten out issues with the Transport Network Companies by October, the committee did not mean for them to suspend the operations of any TNC. I was wrong to think that the LTFRB was on the same page with the Committee on how to come up with remedial rules pending the crafting of pertinent legislation,” she stated.

“Why can’t the LTFRB be innovative in coming up with an appropriate penalty that is fair and that will not prejudice the riding public? Is there no other less crippling penalty at our disposal? Thirty days is a long time. Could not the LTFRB just consider imposing a fine commensurate to whatever violation Uber has committed? Or at worst, just consider suspending the units that the agency said were accredited much later after having determined their identities?” Poe asked.

Poe also emphasized that LTFRB is well aware that even Uber’s competitor – Grab – admits that it is unable to service all those who try to book with them.

“Was the interest of the riding public, that is now compromised and jeopardized, ever factored in when the LTFRB came up with the suspension order?” she added.

Poe said she will call the LTFRB officials for a meeting at the Senate this Wednesday, Aug. 16, to resolve the issue.

Meanwhile, Sen. Joel Villanueva said he wants the LTFRB to define the “predatory actions” of Uber which warranted the suspension.

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