House bill to require Grab, Uber to get franchise from Congress

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, December 29) — Lawmakers are proposing that transport network companies (TNCs) secure a franchise from Congress to operate in the country.

This proposal is contained in House Bill No. 6776 or the "Land Transport Act of 2017," which seeks to revamp the country's public transport system.

The bill also proposes merging the Land Transportation Office and the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) into one agency. House Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez and eight other lawmakers filed the bill on December 11.

Read: House bill seeks to merge LTO, LTFRB into one agency

Under the measure, "TNCs, prior to its application for accreditation by the Authority, must first secure a franchise from Congress."

A certificate of accreditation allows companies like Grab and Uber to operate in the Philippines.

Currently, only the LTFRB has the authority to accredit TNCs through Memorandum Circulars.

House Bill No. 6776 is one of many measures in both the House and the Senate that seek to recognize TNCs, thus providing the government with stronger legal framework to accredit and regulate this mode of transportation.

Grab Philippines Spokesperson and Public Affairs Head Leo Gonzales said on Thursday that the company is reviewing the bill.

"Rest assured we will use our continuously evolving technology to work with the government in promoting the welfare of the riding public," he said in a statement. "We look forward to being actively involved in discussions related to this proposed measure."

CNN Philippines reached out to Uber Philippines, but it has yet to respond.

The accreditations of both Grab and Uber — which expired in July and August 2017, respectively — are still in limbo as the LTFRB has yet to renew these due to issues over drivers who were accepting rides without a franchise.

Read: Grab, Uber future uncertain: LTFRB sets accreditation hearing

However, the government has allowed both companies to continue operating.

In July 2017, both companies were fined ₱5 million for colorum operations after authorities discovered that they took in new drivers and operators despite the regulator's suspension order on all new applications.

Read: LTFRB fines Grab, Uber ₱5 million each for violations