By Alexandria Dennise San Juan
The Department of Transportation has signed an order allowing the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board to fully regulate ride-sharing firms.
Transportation Secretary Arthur Tugade signed Monday morning a Department Order which gives full authority to the LTFRB to regulate and supervise transport network companies (TNCs) and transport network vehicle service (TNVS) units operating under them.
The DOTr stated it recognized the establishment of the roles of the new transport provider in providing services to the public, as well as in promoting “safe, reliable, and efficient land transportation services in the country.”
The LTFRB, as mandated by the law, was tasked to regulate and monitor the compliance of ride-sharing companies with policies, laws, and regulations on transportation.
With the order, the LTFRB was given the full authority on issuing franchises, setting of routes, setting of operating conditions, and imposing fines, suspensions, and cancellations, of TNCs and TNVS.
Fares, rates, and other related charges will also be determined by the Board after public hearings and consultations in order to ensure that they are “just and reasonable.”
Tugade added that regulation is seen to benefit all parties and explained that all companies entering the public transport should be regulated for fair competition.
The DOTr, in a statement, said that the newly-signed order intends to correct DO 2015-11 issued by the previous administration, by bringing back the regulatory authority to the LTFRB, and not in the “hands of private individuals.”
Under the DO 2015-11, the LTFRB has given only an oversight function to TNCs.
The order was signed while dominant TNC Grab Philippines was being questioned by the Board for their “unauthorized” fare rates.
Meanwhile, LTFRB Chairman Martin Delgra III said the agency is ready to fulfill its mandate.
He added that the Board has been engaging with ride-hailing companies operators and drivers more often than other PUVs over the past year.
“It is because we see their value, and because we believe that if done right, they will make a big difference and our commuters will ultimately benefit,” Delgra said.
For its part, Grab Country Head Brian Cu said they have yet to receive a copy of the DO, but will “comply, as always, to the orders set forth by the DOTr.”
“We also recognize and reiterate our deference to the authority of the LTFRB, and we will continue to abide by the regulations issued by the Board,” he said.
“Grab will also continue to support the DOTr and the LTFRB in their mandate to ensure the safety and protection of commuters,” Cu added.