LTFRB reiterates legality of P10-M fine against Grab PH

The Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) on Thursday, July 12, reiterated that the P10-million fine on Grab Philippines for imposing a P2-per-minute travel charge was in accordance with its regulatory function.

Grab PH country manager Brian Cu (right) explaining the company’s fare structure to LTFRB officials during a hearing

This as the ridesharing firm bared plans to appeal the decision of the LTFRB, maintaining that an order of the Department of Transportation (DOTr) allows TNCs to set their own fare rates subject to the oversight of the Board.

“We will stick on the majority rule na may paglabag doon sa pag-impose nila ng P2-per minute (there was a violation when they imposed the P2-per minute),” LTFRB chairman Martin Delgra III said in an interview with reporters on the sidelines of the launching of the implementation of the Pantawid Pasada Program for jeepney operators and drivers Thursday afternoon.

Grab Philippines can still to file a motion for reconsideration within 15 days upon issuance of the order and may appeal to the DOTr in case this was denied, according to the LTFRB.

In its statement, Grab said that the per minute charge was in accordance with Department Order 2015-011 and that this is still valid.

“This DO is valid despite the position of the LTFRB to the contrary. LTFRB has no authority to declare DOTr order invalid. Only the courts, not LTFRB can rule on the validity of an order especially one issued by DOTr which has direct supervision and control over the LTFRB,” Grab public affairs head Leo Gonzales said.

“There is no basis for the fine being imposed by LTFRB. We disagree with the Board’s decision and we will file an appeal to protect the ridesharing industry in the country,” he added.

Grab also said the per minute fare was also part of the presentation and discussions during its technical working group meeting with the LTFRB on July 2017 and that the LTFRB chief was also informed of the fare structure.

“We likewise received an e-mail response from the Office of the Chairman. No concerns were raised by the Board at that time,” it said.

However, Delgra said an e-mail response from his office cannot be seen as approval of the fare structure.

“The Board is going to decide as to whether we are going to grant a fare increase or not. It’s the Board who’s going to decide, and that’s basically what happened to the taxi fare, to the PUJ,” he said.

The agency earlier said there was no mention of any travel time rate, which Grab has been collecting, when it released its order on the fare structure of TNCs in Dec. 27, 2016, which stipulates that the company should impose a flagdown rate of P40 with an additional rate of P10 to P14 per kilometer excluding per-minute travel charges.

In its order dated July 9, the LTFRB said the rebates will be availed only for 20 days from the time the decision becomes final or when Grab shall start its implementation whichever is earlier.

The amount of the rebate is limited to the portion of the income of Grab which is directly related to the P2-per minute charge during the period of its imposition.

The per-minute charge was imposed by Grab from June 2, 2017 until Apr. 19, 2018 when it was suspended by the LTFRB.

The DOTr has issued an order last June 11, authorizing the LTFRB to determine the fare, rates and other charges of TNCs after undergoing public hearings and consultations to ensure that they are just and reasonable.

This will ensure that the TNCs will comply with policies, laws, and regulations as the DOTr recognizes their role in providing transport services to the public. — Aerol John Pateña (PNA)