Philippine Competition Commission to look into Uber suspension

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, August 16) — The Philippine Competition Commission (PCC) on Wednesday said it may wade into the ride-sharing app controversy in a bid to keep the transport services network industry fair.

PCC Chairman Arsenio Balisacan said that the commission hoped to meet with the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB), which suspended Uber operations for a month. The suspension triggered a surge in demand and prices for Uber's competitor, Grab.

"We don't interfere with their own rules," Balisacan told CNN Philippines The Source, referring to government regulatory agencies. "But in this particular case, we have actually written already LTFRB [saying] that we would be pleased to sit down with them to understand the situation and for us to also be able to inject competition in the whole discussion."

"At the end of the day, if those rules are going to hurt consumers in terms of inconvenience, in terms of high cost of using these services, then it becomes a competition [issue]," he added.

Balisacan said the PCC can advise LTFRB in situations where a level playing field in the market is at risk.

"The competition authority doesn't meddle with [their mandate], only when the tools, policies, or the rules... conflict with the competition mandate, then we come in and we sit down with the regulatory agency," said Balisacan.

 

The PCC is a quasi-judicial body tasked with ensuring fair market competition by "regulating anti-competitive conduct," benefiting both businesses and consumers.

Republic Act 10667 or The Philippine Competition Act, which created the commission, went into full force on August 9 after a two-year grace period for businesses to comply with the law.

LTFRB slapped Uber with a month-long suspension on Monday for failing to comply with a July 26 order that called on transport network services not to accept and activate new drivers. Uber filed a motion for consideration on Tuesday, which was denied.

Related: LTFRB denies Uber appeal on one-month suspension

Netizens and lawmakers criticized the LTFRB order, saying commuters and drivers earning a living with this popular ride-sharing app were being punished. Uber's competitor, Grab, announced on Tuesday a cap of 1.4 times a given fare, in order to prevent these from becoming too high due to demand.

The PCC is also looking into reports of cement and garlic cartels. Balisacan reminded the public that any Filipino can file a complaint with their office.

"There are actually three ways by which a case is lodged or taken up by the commission. One is any Filipino can file a verified complaint to the commission that can be taken up by the commission as a case," Balisacan said.

"The other one is the commission motu proprio can undertake an investigation based on its own information. And the third one is for [when] another regulatory agency or another agency of government asks for our help in investigating a case," he added.