Netizens rally for Grab, Uber amid LTFRB order against unaccredited drivers

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, July 17) — Filipino commuters on Monday rallied support on social media for popular ride-sharing apps Grab and Uber.

The hashtag #WeWantUberGrab is trending on Twitter in the Philippines. 

This comes amid a regulation from the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board's (LTFRB) for Grab Philippines, Uber Philippines, and U-Hop to prohibit unaccredited drivers in their pool from operating beginning July 27.

READ: LTFRB orders Grab, Uber to submit list of accredited operators

The LTFRB said drivers operating without a provisional authority or certificate of public convenience will be penalized P120,000. The government transport regulator stopped granting applications for these certificates of public convenience in July 2016 to assess the approval of the franchise of  transport network companies (TNCs).

READ: LTFRB: Grab and Uber drivers can keep working – if they have papers

This limits the number of vehicles of TNCs like Grab and Uber. Only about 4,000 of the 28,000 TNC drivers are authorized. 

The move has angered TNC patrons, who claim the ride-sharing applications offer better service, safety, convenience, and courtesy that other transportation services such as public taxis failed to provide.

Motoring journalist and The Service Road host James Deakin put up a public poll on his Facebook page, asking the question: "Which of the two do you feel is the safer, more convenient option?". Around 69,000, or 99.7 percent of respondents, chose Grab and Uber, while around 200 or 0.3 percent chose the taxi.

An online petition created by Bobby Coronel asks for 75,000 signatures in support of the ride-hailing service. It has almost 63,000 online signatures as of posting.



Netizens ranted against traditional white-colored taxicabs, which they complained often charge more than the flag-down rate,  use tampered meters, or refuse passengers.

"You don't know how inconvenient it is to ride typical taxis in PH. Mabaho, reklamador at bastos ang karamihan sa kanila (A lot of them smell bad, complain, and are rude)," netizen Justin Villafuerte said.



LTFRB ‘won’t succumb’ to pressure

The LTFRB, however, said it was resolute in its decision to allow only certified drivers to transport passengers "to ensure safety."

"The board will not be influenced nor will it succumb to pressure. the paramount concern is to compliance to ensure safety," LTFRB Board Member and Spokesperson Aileen Lizada said in a Viber message.

She explained that about 95 percent of applicants submitted incomplete documents.

Lizada said it was the TNCs' duty to explain to its drivers and operators the LTFRB policy.

"In the event that both TNCs will continue to defy the order, the board might be constrained to apply the full force of the law, considering that both accreditations are under review," she added.

Grab Philippines said it would not deactivate any of its partners for now.

"We understand the predicament of drivers, and so at this time we will not deactivate any of our partners. The enforcement has been ongoing since last year in all cities where we operate. Be that as it may, Grab stands by the side of its partner-drivers who represent the safest most reliable transport service providers in the country," it said in a statement.

Grab Philippines urged the LTFRB to convene the technical working group and expressed hope the government and stakeholders would find "middle ground."  The LTFRB will call for a meeting with both Grab and Uber, but has not set the date.

"We earnestly hope that we can find a middle ground with the government and all the stakeholders, and come up with stronger policies to bolster the transportation sector and to provide quality service the commuters rightfully deserve," it said.

Uber, for its part, said it is committed to working with the LTFRB, but said suspending vehicles with pending franchise applications would inconvenience millions of commuters who depend on its services.