Uber and Grab Philippines on Wednesday admitted before the House of Representatives that there are a total of 118,398 cars plying the streets of Metro Manila, which these two transportation network vehicle services (TNVS) providers did not disclose earlier.
During a hearing of the House Committee on Transportation, Uber Philippines Government Relations and Public Policy Head Yves Gonzalez told lawmakers that there are 66,000 Uber cars that made one trip a year.
However, Gonzalez said only 2,500 have provisional authority from the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB), and there are 1,000 pending applications for extension. For his part, Grab Philippines chief Brian Cu said there are 52,398 Grab cars in the National Capital Region.
But Cu also admitted that only 3,000 to 4,000 have provisional authority from franchising board.
In the same hearing, LTFRB Chairman Martin Delgra III said he was “surprised” to learn the real number of vehicles as these two TNVS claimed that they only have 28,000 vehicles each. “During the July hearing, they have about 28,000 more or less each. And today, they’re saying twice or more than twice as many. That’s why we say we are shocked. These are the data we’ve been trying to get since last year, because we need to understand precisely the issue of accountability,” Delgra said.
Party-list Rep. Rodel M. Batocabe of Ako Bicol raised the issue of accountability and liability of Uber and Grab vehicles. In case of an accident or untoward incident, Batocabe said the passenger cannot file a case against Uber or Grab since it is not a carrier but only a technology platform.
“In case of accident, who do I file cases against? Who do I ran after for indemnity as a result of reckless driving? Who has the contract of carriage?” he asked.
Batocabe also urged the LTFRB to strengthen its regulatory function so it can better enforce its policies and guidelines, especially in the case of Uber and Grab, which are not motorized vehicles but “only technology/digital platforms”.
The lawmaker said he supports the proposal of House Speaker Pantaleon D. Alvarez to require Uber and Grab to secure a congressional franchise.
“They [Uber and Grab] cannot just operate without regulation, especially since their operation involves the protection and welfare of our people,” Batocabe said.
“They must come to Congress to operate this kind of technology,” he added.
Earlier, House Committee on Appropriations Chairman and Rep. Karlo Alexei B. Nograles of the First District of Davao City and Party-list Rep. Jericho Nograles of the Puwersa ng Bayaning Atleta filed House Bill (HB) 6009 to clarify the requirements, guidelines and standards for the operation of these transportation network companies (TNCs), like Uber and Grab.
The lawmakers said the bill also seeks to end the “raging” controversy over the decision of the LTFRB to suspend the operation of some Uber and Grab vehicles caused by the absence of a legal framework that would address the distinct character of TNCs as a public conveyance.
HB 6009, or the proposed Transportation Network Service Act, seeks to institutionalize the TNCs as an alternative mode of public transport and provide the regulations for the operation of transportation network services “to ensure that the paramount interest of the public is protected and conserved, while encouraging free enterprise and economic development”.
Under the proposal, TNCs and and transportation network drivers are declared as common carriers for purposes of determining the liability and degree of diligence that must be observed in the course of transportation network service, and the presumption of negligence in case of breach of contract of carriage shall, likewise, apply to them.