The Quezon City Regional Trial Court on Friday issued a 20-day temporary restraining order on the granting of provisional authorities to so-called “Transportation Network Vehicle Services (TNVS),” which include Uber and GrabCar, as well as commuter shuttle vans.
Judge Santiago Arenas of Branch 217 in a television interview clarified that the order does not stop the operation of Uber and GrabCar but covers future applications of vehicles applying as TNVS.
The court particularly ordered a halt to implementation and enforcement of Department of Transportation and Communications Order (DOTC) No. 2015-11, Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board Memorandum Circulars 2015-15 to 18 and all other issuances on the acceptance, processing and approval of applications “of motor vehicles as public utility vehicles accredited and belonging to TNVS.”
The injunction was sought by Pascual Magno, president of the Angat Tsuper Samahan ng Mga Tsuper at Operator ng Pilipinas Genuine Organization Transport Coalition (STOP & GO), who said that as holders of government franchises, they have been “affected by the issuance of provisional authorities to TNVS-TNC vehicles plying the routes of Metro Manila.”
The court said the TRO is intended “to prevent grave and irreparable injury and damage to the association’s officers and members because their claim that they suffer less or low incomes and earnings is found to be persuasive [owing to]a sudden and uncontrolled increase in the number of TNVS utility vehicles running in the streets of Metro Manila.”
Some taxi and UV Express drivers claimed that their daily take home earnings have declined by at least 50 percent with the presence of the app-booking services.
The court has set the next hearing for December 8.
In separate statements, both Uber and GrabTaxi Philippines said they are yet to be officially notified about the decision and would “continue to operate as usual.”
“We are closely coordinating with the government and we are hopeful that we will get support to be able to provide safe and convenient GrabCar rides in the country,” GrabTaxi said.
Uber said it was aware of the decision and was studying its implications.
“Uber was not a party to the proceedings that resulted in the court’s decision and plans to coordinate closely with the DOTC and LTFRB,” it added.
“Uber remains committed to serving Filipino commuters and has confidence that the DOTC and LTFRB will continue working productively with Uber and other industry participants to issue all necessary permits under prevailing regulations and assure smooth operation of Transport Network Vehicle Services in Metro Manila and elsewhere in the Philippines,” Uber said.
Jobert Pahilga, a lawyer for the petitioners, explained that they sought an injunction not because they are against the operations of Uber and GrabTaxi but to assail the inconsistency of the government’s transport policies.
“We know that there are many who are not happy with the TRO against Uber and GrabTaxi operations. The petitioners are not against their operation per se but because the government is not consistent with its position. Remember Joint Administrative Order No. 1, which resulted in the ban of trucks without Certificate of Public Convenience [CPC] or franchise which in turn resulted in heavy traffic? We filed a petition at the Supreme Court to stop its implementation. We argued that the policy is unconstitutional and the fine imposed against erring drivers and operators is confiscatory.
“The government through the Solicitor-General argued that they are just enforcing the law, that all common carriers need CPC. [But] Uber and Grab, they don’t have CPC? Dahil ba mayaman ang may-ari nito at may pera din ang karamihang sumasakay dito [Is it because Uber and Grab are owned by rich people and the riders of their units are also rich]?”
Pahilga said the government must be consistent with its policy “after all, the law applies to all..
“The petitioner in Uber and GrabTaxi case merely wanted equal protection of the law. Now, since there is no law yet for the likes of Uber and Grab, Public Service Act would apply. And therefore, [the Solicitor-General’s]argument at the SC holds water. [No CPC, no right to operate]. As simple as that.
“It’s up to Congress now to enact a law for web-based taxi or transport operation or to amend the Public Service Act to include it under its coverage.”