The Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) has issued an order dismissing a petition filed by party-list group 1-Utak against ride-sharing apps Uber and Grab.
In its decision, the agency denied 1-Utak?s consolidated petitions for the cancellation of accreditation of Uber as a transport network company (TNC) and for the suspension of applications for transport network vehicle services (TNVS) by private vehicles.
The LTFRB said it gave 1-Utak and Uber/Grab ample time to answer and reply the petition and present their respective positions during scheduled hearings late last year.
In their petition, 1-Utak alleged that Department Order (DO) 2015-11, which stipulates the rules and regulations in the operations of TNVS/TNC, violates the constitutional right of equal protection of other public utility vehicles (PUVs) covered by the moratorium.
It added that while PUVs had to seek LTFRB?s approval for any adjustment of fares or additional charges, TNCs/TNVS can dictate and adjust their fares without any limitation.
It also argued that PUVs also need to secure a route measure capacity before applying for a new franchise, whereas TNVS only need the accreditation of a TNC to secure one.
Uber, in its respond to 1-Utak?s petition for the Cancellation of Accreditation, claimed that the DO 2015-11 is presumed to be valid until nullified by the higher courts. It added that the LTFRB has no jurisdiction to determine the validity or its constitutionality.
There is also no violation of the Anti-Dummy Law on the part of Uber since it is not involved in the management, administration, and control of a PUV. It is merely performing its functions as a TNC under DO 2015-11 and LTFRB regulations, the decision said.
Uber and Grab?s response to 1-Utak?s petition also claimed that it does not have the legal standing to oppose the TNC?s application, and does not have the substantial interest required under the 2011 LTFRB Revised Rules of Procedures.
DO 2015-11 provides that the fare of a TNVS shall be set by the TNC, subject to supervision of the LTFRB under certain circumstances. The Supreme Court consistently ruled that an action must be done through a direct proceeding, and not by collateral attack.
The order also stated the issues raised by 1-Utak for the cancellation of accreditation need not be discussed, as they should be threshed out in the proper forum. Doing so will be an encroachment to the power of the courts to rule on the constitutional and legal issues of the government issuance.
The LTFRB said it decided to rule in favor of the TNVs since TNCs ?offer services distinct from all other modes of transportation being regulated by the Board. It operates under a TNC structure and within the framework of ?sharing economy? or ?collaborative consumption? characterized by the sharing of assets among a community of people over a digital platform.
?We gave both parties to air their pleas and contentions, and the Board decided to make a disposition that would promote better mobility and to the benefit the riding public,? Winston Ginez, LTFRB chairman, said.
He added that as specified under DO 2015-11, the LTFRB encourages innovation across all forms of public land transport in order to increase mobility on major thoroughfares, boost travel times, improve the quality, sustainability and reliability of public transport services, and respond to the needs of the modern commuter.
The agency, Ginez said, promotes healthy competition and pushes for PUVs to improve the quality of their services.
?PUV operators and transport groups should welcome the challenge and competition for better public transport service which would serve the best interest of the public safety and convenience,? Ginez said,
While there is a pending request filed by a LTRFB board member to the Department of Transportation and Communications (DOTC) for a moratorium on the acceptance of applications for TNVs, all the petitions filed by 1-Utak were denied.