Senators dismayed at LTFRB, call for lifting of Uber suspension

At least four more senators have made known their displeasure at the action of the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) in suspending the operations of ride-hailing firm Uber for a month.

Senators Sherwin Gatchalian, Grace Poe, and JV Ejercito confronting LTFRB officials (foreground) during a recent Senate hearing

Senators Sherwin Gatchalian, Grace Poe, and JV Ejercito confronting LTFRB officials (foreground) during a recent Senate hearing

The San Francisco-based tech firm filed a Motion for Reconsideration on the suspension order, but this was denied by the LTFRB on the same day (Aug. 15) it was filed.

Aside from Senators Grace Poe and Joel Villanueva who earlier voiced their opposition to the LTFRB decision, Senators Francis Pangilinan, Ralph Recto, Sherwin Gatchalian, and Bam Aquino have also issued statements denouncing the suspension order on Uber.

Pangilinan said the suspension order impacts on the thousands of commuters who now have to seek for other ride-hailing service or alternative means of public transportation.

“As regulators, the LTFRB should be enabling and empowering, not prohibiting of the available technology that has in a way helped solve the lack of reliable, safe, and comfortable means of transportation for the Filipinos,” he said.

Pangilinan said Uber should be allowed to operate pending resolution of the issues.

Recto, on the other hand, said the LTFRB should have just fined Uber instead of imposing a penalty of suspension. “If the intent is to punish, then to do it in a way that will hurt Uber, the company, and not the tired and harassed riding public,” he said.

“So instead of suspension, can the penalty be in the form of a fine? If legally feasible, make it in the seven figures again, as a painful reminder to comply with regulations,” Recto added.

He also said the suspension should have not been comprehensive and limited to vehicles with licensing deficiencies.

For his part, Gatchalian said the LTFRB’s order to suspend Uber for one month is a “hasty and untimely decision” which will cause further frustration and chaos for commuters.

“To stop this situation from getting out of hand, I am calling on LTFRB to immediately recall the suspension order. I have nothing against holding Uber accountable for its violations, but the suspension order goes too far,” he said.

“It puts the burden of punishment on the shoulders of commuters who have already suffered enough. Instead, the imposition of a larger fine on Uber for its violations would be a more equitable and reasonable punishment,” Gatchalian added.

In addition, the lawmaker urged LTFRB to lift its accreditation ban and begin processing new applications from Grab, Uber, and other platforms.

“As we search for solutions, let us be guided by the fact that ride-sharing companies have prospered because in a city bereft of reliable mass transport, they have become for many not just the ride of last resort, but in fact the only ride,” he said.

Aquino, meanwhile, said he thought the issue was ironed out and a consensus was reached between the LTFRB and transportation network companies (TNCs) during a recent Senate hearing.

“I thought we were all on the same page to put our commuters first and to create a new regulatory framework for TNVS and taxis,” he said.

Aquino stressed the need to develop a brand-new regulatory framework which governs TNCs, TNVS and even taxis.

“In any industry, increased competition often leads to improved quality, improved service, and lower prices for consumers. For the commuting public, this is a change they have long clamored for,” he said.

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