Driver-partners slam Grab's destination masking, removal of P2 per minute charge

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This story was updated to include statements from drivers on the suspension of P2 per minute fare.

Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, April 25) - Driver-partners of ride-hailing app Grab decried on Wednesday the destination masking it will impose on them starting Friday.

Turning the tables on Grab, transport network vehicle service (TNVS) providers said before officials of the Land Transportation Regulatory and Franchising Board (LTFRB) that knowing the destination on the app keeps them safe and informs them of the risk of taking the trip.

"If we're going to try to link yung cancellation with seeing the destination, parang hindi makatarungan ' yon (that's seems to be unfair). There's no link to it," said Arnel Caluya, one of the TNVS providers who attended the forum.

"If you have the capability na malaman ahead na delikado yung lugar na pupuntahan mo (to know ahead of time if your destination is dangerous) that would be helpful para sa isang driver na maiwasan yung mga ganitong incidents ng carnapping and holdup (that would be helpful to a driver so he can avoid areas prone to carnapping and holdup)," he added.

The destination masking feature will be initially rolled out on April 27 to 25 percent of Grab drivers with a historically low acceptance rate.

This came amid growing complaints from passengers on drivers canceling their bookings or outright refusing to take them.

However, drivers would be able to see passengers' destination from 10 p.m. to 4 a.m., as a safety measure.

Drivers contest P2 per minute suspension

On Friday, drivers appealed for the re-imposition of the P2 per minute charge. They said other drivers were forced to leave their jobs becaise the suspension of the charge hurt their take home pay.

One TNVS driver, Joaquin Rivera, said he had to scrape a living to earn P3,000 a day.

" 'Yung P3,000 -- nasa 25 to 30 trips na po iyan," said Rivera. "Okay na po sa amin nung naging 1.5 (surge) na medyo natamaan kami pero mas malaki po yung epekto nung P2 per minute."

[Translation: Earning P3,000 entails 25 to 30 trips. We were fine when the surge went down to 1.5 even if we got hit, but the P2 per minute (suspension) is worse.]

The money earned from trips is divided between Grab, the driver, and a possible transport vehicle operator.

Another driver, Fernando de Guzman, said he wasn't out to be wealthy -- but to earn a decent wage.

"Hindi po namin hinahangad na kumita ng masyadong malaki. Ibigay lang po sa amin yung karapat-dapat. Tamang serbisyo po binibigay namin, sana makuha rin po namin yung tama para sa amin," he said.

[Translation: We don't aspire for really high pay. We just want fair pay. We give proper service, we also want to be treated properly.]

The LTFRB on April 18 ordered Grab to suspend its per minute charge pending a review of its legality. The contested fare was raised by PBA party-list Rep. Jericho Nograles, who noted that transport regulators did not approve the fare and the riding public was not informed about it.

Grab previously lamented that cancellation rates doubled since LTFRB imposed the suspension. It said only half of the passenger demand during April 20 and 21 was serviced as a result.

"Drivers have to buy gas, pay the monthly amortization for the vehicle, or the daily boundary, and when traffic stalls them, it is only the P2 per minute that saves their income," said Cu.

Grab has since complied with the order, but filed an appeal to restore the fare.

Drivers raise other complaints

As of Wednesday, other topics tabled for discussion were the charge for cleaning fee, wrong location pins for pick-up, riders who keep drivers waiting for long, and drunk passengers.

One driver shared his traumatic experience with a drunk passenger.

"Nagalit, pinagmumura ako, tinuro-turo na ako. Naisip ko ibaba sa police station. Nung nalabas ako sa pinto, mag-usap daw muna kami. 'Nung time na yon sinapak ako," said Chito Obosan.

[Translation: He went mad, kept cussing me and pointed his finger at me. I thought of bringing him to the police station. When I got him out of the car, he told me he'd like to have a chat. Then he punched me.]

Obosan appealed to LTFRB to give drivers like him the option to refuse drunk passengers.

For its part, transport regulators said new safety measures for drivers in distress would be put in place next month. LTFRB is also studying the possibility of banning abusive riders.

"Let us start on a clean slate, treat each other more with respect, be more honest. Huwag lolokohin 'yung TNVS na pababa na kayo 'yun pala nag-me-makeup pa at mga TNVS, respetuhin 'yung mananakay. It's just respecting each other," said LTFRB Spokesperson and Board Member Aileen Lizada.

Driver group leaders also explained to LTFRB that they need to return the P2 per minute charge to remind everyone that Grab offers premium service.

CNN Philippines correspondent Anjo Alimario and multi-platform writer Regine Cabato contributed to this report.