By Mario Casayuran
The Philippine Competition Commission (PCC) should impose stiffer penalty against ride-hailing giant Grab Philippines (Grab PH) for repeatedly violating the country’s competition rules since the departure of Uber in 2018, Senator Sherwin Gatchalian said Saturday.
Gatchalian, chairman of the Senate energy committee, made the call after finding out that the PCC has penalized the Transport Network Company (TNC) four times for breaching price and service quality promises in a span of more than a year, which for him is ‘’very unacceptable.’’
After Grab acquired Uber’s Southeast Asia operations last year, the PCC fined Grab PH for violating key provisions of the Interim Measures Order (IMO) during the merger review period of the antitrust authority.
Grab was penalized in October 2018 for its failure to maintain pre-merger conditions such as pricing policies, rider incentives, and service quality.
Gatchalian said the PCC also fined Grab PH again in January 2019 P6.5 million for submitting “deficient, inconsistent, and incorrect data” for the monitoring of its “compliance with its voluntary commitments.”
On November 14, the regulator announced that it ordered Grab to return about P5.05 million in fares due to “overcharging” from customers who booked their services between February and May 2019. The PCC gave Grab 60 days to refund customers.
On December 19, the PCC imposed a fine of P14.15 million for Grab’s extraordinary deviation on its pricing commitment, and P2 million for exceeding driver cancellations at 7.76 percent instead of the committed 5 percent.
“Ilang beses nang nakitaan ng violation at sinita ng PCC ang pang-aabuso ng Grab sa ating mga commuter kaya naman sila ay madalas na pinagmumulta. Ang nakapagtataka, apat na beses na silang pinagmulta ng paulit-ulit sa loob ng isang taon”, Gatchalian said in astonishment.(The PCC has discovered many violations and abuses by Grab against commuters and has imposed fines. What is surprising is that Grab has been fined four times in one year,)
“Parang lumalabas tuloy na dahil hawak nila ang 93 percent ng share sa industry ay pwede na nilang kontrolin ang merkado at ayos lang kahit na magmulta sila at lumabag sa itinakdang standards ng PCC,” he added. (Since it holds 93 percent share of the industry, Grab controls the market and it is okay to violate PCC standards despite fines imposed.)
‘’More than three times or four times na itong nangyayari kaya dapat maimbistigahan ito sa Senado dahil maliwanag na pang-aabuso ito. Iyong mga pangyayari noong 2018 and 2019 paulit-ulit na lang, kaya dapat tingnan na rin ng PCC ang buong sitwasyon at patawan sila ng mas matinding karampatang aksyon,’’ he added. (The Senate should investigate Grab for having been fined four times for abuses from 2018 to 2019. The PCC should also look at the entire situation and impose stiffer fines.)
The PCC is a regulatory body mandated to enforce Republic Act No. 10667, or the Philippine Competition Act (PCA), which aims to promote economic efficiency to ensure fair and healthy market competition.