TRO vs Uber, GrabCar should cover operations – transport groups

MANILA, Philippines – A transport coalition hit the temporary restraining order (TRO) issued by a Quezon City court against Uber and GrabCar, after the judge clarified that the order won't stop existing operations of the app-based transportation network vehicle services (TNVS). 

Lawyer David Erro, representing the petitioner STOP and GO coalition, said the 20-day TRO was "useless" if it only stops transportation agencies from accepting or processing TNVS applications without affecting existing operations.

"We were surprised by the clarification given by the judge because the very intention of our petition is to injunct operations....I don't know why, by a mere interview, the order was amended," Erro said during the hearing on Tuesday, December 8.

In an interview with reporters, STOP and GO president Jun Magno also criticized the judge's clarification.

"We firmly believe that the TRO should cover everything, including existing operations... Otherwise, what's the point of our TRO?" he said.

Last week, Quezon City Regional Trial Court 217 Judge Santiago Arenas stopped the implementation of several department orders and memorandum circulars of the Department of Transportation and Communications (DOTC) and the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB).

The issuances outlined the guidelines for the accreditation and operation of TNVS. The TRO, however, was limited only to the processing and approval of future applications.

In the 7-page TRO, Arenas said the transportation department and LTFRB should stop the "implementation and enforcement of DOTC Department Order No 2015-11, LTFRB Memorandum Circulars Nos. 2015-15, 2015-16, 2016-17 and 2015-18 and other issuances thereto which include the accepting, processing, and approving of applications belonging to TNVS category…for a period of 20 days effective from date of receipt."

He made no reference to previously approved applications.

Only future applications stopped

Following the reports of other media organizations that the TRO supposedly covered existing Uber and Grabcar operations, the judge was prompted to issue the clarification. The TRO will not affect existing operations of TNVS units already accredited by the LTFRB.

But Erro, who raised his voice several times during the hearing, said it was "common sense" that the group sought a TRO to stop existing operations, not future ones.

He also pointed out that the operation of TNVS units falls under the DOTC's department orders, and that stopping the orders should mean stopping operations of TNVS as well.

"These TNVS are creations of the department order. We're questioning the implementation of the department order. If the court restrains that order, then existing operations should also be restrained," he said.

But Arenas stood by the TRO, citing jurisprudence that previously issued permits are not covered by the restraining order.

Arenas also said that Uber and GrabCar were neither ordered to stop their operations, nor were they named in the dispositive portion of the TRO, because the two companies were not included in the body of infomation submitted by the petitioner when they sought the TRO.

STOP and GO wants to stop the operations of TNVS. The group said taxi drivers suffer lower income because of the oversupply of Uber and GrabCar units plying the streets of Metro Manila.

The next hearing for the transport coalition's application for preliminary injunction is set on Tuesday, December 15. Rappler.com