Poe to LTFRB: Consider lifting deactivation of hatchback drivers

MANILA, Philippines – Senator Grace Poe on Monday, July 8, criticized the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) for its "inconsistent" policies, amid the "transport holiday" protest staged by ride-hailing groups.

Poe said the LTFRB prematurely denied owners of hatchback vehicles from being in the system of ride-hailing platforms, contrary to LTFRB Memorandum Circular 2018-005 which would have allowed hatchbacks to be in operation until 2021.

"[D]apat rin nating malaman kung bakit napagdesisyunan ng LTFRB na hindi sundin ang sarili nilang circular… Hindi pwedeng paiba-iba ang ipinatutupad na regulasyon. Hindi ito patas sa mga mananakay at sa mga namumuhunan," Poe said.

(We should know why the LTFRB decided not to follow their own circular)," Poe said. It can't be that inconsistent regulations are being implemented. This is not fair to the riders and small-time investors.)

"[W]e hope that the LTFRB can consider lifting the deactivation on those who failed to comply with the requirements," Poe said, pending the dialogue hosted by LTFRB with the operators on Tuesday, July 9.

Only those compliant with government requirements are being allowed into ride-hailing platforms, as in the case of Grab Philippines. Since the year started, the dominant ride-hailing firm deactivated a total of 15,000 "colorum" drivers, for failing to submit proof that they are processing their franchise.

TNVS hatchback drivers claimed about 5,000 of them were deactivated by ride-hailing firms, citing "safety concerns and convenience issues to passengers."

Poe also said that the LTFRB should also "recognize" the calls to make franchise processing easier, following the Ease of Doing Business Act.

"Matagal na nating kinilala ang kakayanan ng industriyang ito na tugunan ang kakulangan ng maayos na transportasyon sa Kalakhang Maynila. Bakit natin kailangang pahirapan ang lahat?" Poe said.

(We are long recognized the capability of this industry to fil the gap of mass transportation in Metro Manila. Why do we need to make everyone suffer?)

On Monday, TNVS drivers staged the "transport holiday" protest. Drivers and operators said the additional requirement on "bank conformity" and the "proof of financial capacity" made it harder for them to secure a franchise.

But Grab denied that the transport holiday made a dent on the supply of cars Monday morning. 

The deactivated drivers said they will file a class suit against the LTFRB within the day. – with a report from Enrico Berdos/Rappler.com

Aika Rey

Aika Rey covers the Philippine Senate for Rappler. Before writing about politicians, she covered budget, labor, and transportation issues.