• Grab, Uber seek social media help to lift service ban

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    DRIVERS of ride-sharing services Grab and Uber have launched an online petition urging the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) to lift its nearly year-old suspension of Transport Network Vehicle Service (TVNS) applications.

    As of 5 p.m. on Monday, July 17, the petition on the Change.org website has garnered more than 62,000 supporters.

    On July 21 last year, the LTFRB issued Memorandum Circular 2016-008, directing its technical division and regional offices to not accept any applications for TNVS, especially those from Uber, GrabCar, and Uhop, due to the rising volume of TNVS applications.

    TopSpeed founder Bobby Coronel led the online petition, saying that many TNVS drivers are considered colorum (unregistered) by the LTFRB, as they have not been issued with the transport authority’s documents–such as the Provincial Authority (PA) or the CPC (Franchise)—to operate as TNVS.

    “But this is not our fault. After undergoing stringent screening, training, and drug tests, we received our accreditation from our TNC, in this case, Grab Philippines. This is a requirement to be able to apply for a TNVS PA with the LTFRB,” he said.

    Coronel stressed that even though they had received their TNC accreditation, the drivers’ applications for PA with the LTFRB were “either not acted upon, or did not make it to the July 21, 2016 cut-off when they suspended all new applications.”

    “We are nearing the one-year mark for the suspension. And while the LTFRB and Department of Transportation [have]announced the lifting of the PUV [public utility vehicle]moratorium, they have left the status of TNVS hanging. Even though many in our ranks do not yet have a PA, it is hard to consider us as fly-by-night colorum drivers,” he added.

    He said they would present their petition to the LTFRB, the Department of Transportation (DOTr), and even to the President.

    Netizens also vented their views on social media apps like Twitter, making #WeWantUberGrab one of the top trending topics on Monday.

    Meanwhile, a transport department official blamed the ride-hailing services for their current predicament.

    In a radio interview on Monday, Elvira Medina, DOTr assistant secretary for commuter affairs, said in Tagalog: “It should not be blamed on the government because we have been telling them for a long time to sort out their operations.”

    She said these ride-hailing services have violated many rules. “They kept on accepting drivers. They were registering themselves. They were setting their own fares when it should have been the LTFRB that had that authority.”

    “They also kept on advertising on Facebook and Google. They should first seek a permit from the agency that has jurisdiction over it—the LFTRB,” she continued.

    Medina said the agency is not against innovation, but she insisted that the safety of the passengers should be the primary concern.

    “It is indeed convenient but safety is needed. Those that are colurum have no insurance, are not registered, and so the government cannot run after them,” she said.

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