Ride-hailing drivers to go on 'transport holiday' July 8

MANILA, Philippines – Ride-hailing drivers and operators said they will hold a "transport holiday" on Monday, July 8, as they expressed concerns over some "oppressive" policies of the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB).

In a news briefing on Thursday, July 4, Ariel Inton of the Lawyers for Community Safety and Function said that the transport holiday is “for the sake of the TNVS (Transport Network Vehicle Service) community and the riding public."

"It’s a holiday in the sense that every organization will have a different mode of action. Some will hold vigils, conduct a caravan.... But one thing is sure: hindi sila papasada (they will go offline),” Inton said.

Inton apologized in advance to commuters and explained the reason for the transport holiday.

"Ginagawa lang nila ito dahil darating ang panahon na kung mananatili ang mga pahirap policy na iyan, wala tayong masasakyang TNVS dahil malulugi ang negosyo," he added.

([TNVS operators] are doing this because there will come a time when we won’t be able to ride TNVS vehicles because businesses will suffer if these oppressive policies are maintained).

TNVS groups have not provided a total number of vehicles scheduled to go offline on Monday as of posting. But they assured that "majority" of their 45,000 members under the umbrella group TNVS Community Philippines will participate on Monday.

Ride-hailing drivers lament the LTFRB process of applying for franchises, saying that the application for the certificate of public convenience has become "more difficult."

Drivers and operators said that the additional requirement on "bank conformity" and the "proof of financial capacity" made it harder for them to secure a franchise.

Dominant ride-hailing app Grab Philippines said on Thursday that it will encourage the drivers to "show utmost restraint" with their actions, but they would respect their right to free speech and peaceful assembly.

"We urge our TNVS partners to show utmost restraint before taking actions that could negatively impact the ability of passengers to book rides," Grab spokesperson Nicka Hosaka said.

"We recognize the TNVS partners’ right to free speech and peaceable assembly. In many ways, we also support the call for smoother processes and faster timelines," she added.

Grab recently deactivated 15,000 "colorum" drivers since the year started, for failing to submit proof that they are processing their franchise. – with a report from Aika Rey/Rappler.com

Enrico Berdos is a Rappler intern. He studies journalism at the University of the Philippines-Diliman