INSTEAD of hounding Grab over a charge without legal basis, the regulator should look into addressing the supply-demand gap for the service, as this could help improve the transportation sector in the Philippines, a company official said.
Leo Emmanuel Gonzales, who heads the public affairs division of Grab Philippines, said the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) should put prime focus on addressing the demand for app-based ride-hailing services, noting that the regulator is wasting energy over unfounded charges.
“Loss of driver income, plus a severe lack in supply affects the public service being rendered by our driver-partners. Many people are getting stranded on the road because they can’t book a ride,” he said on Thursday.
“This is invariably linked to the huge disparity between demand and available supply of cars,” he added. Booking requests made on Grab’s platform reach 800,000 requests daily, while the supply of vehicles in Grab is only at 33,000 cars.
“We appeal to the board to focus on resolving the supply gap immediately, as we in turn work hard to continuously improve our overall service,” Gonzales said.
He added that, contrary to the findings of the regulator, the company did not overcharge passengers.
“More importantly, there is no overcharging since Grab shows fixed and upfront fares before bookings are confirmed,” Gonzales said.
Grab is opposing the P10-million fine that the LTFRB slapped on the company for allegedly overcharging passengers by including a P2-per-minute fare in its fare matrix. The charge was included in the fare matrix from June 2017 until it was scrapped by the regulator in April this year.
Gonzales echoed Grab Philippines Country Head Brian P. Cu’s statement on Tuesday night, explaining that the said fare component is allowed under a previous department order issued by the then-Department of Transportation and Communications.
The said order was rescinded last month, when the Department of Transportation (DOTr) officially bestowed on the LTFRB full regulatory and supervisory powers over transport network companies and transport network vehicle service operators.
Gonzales explained that the P2- per-minute charge was part of the presentation and discussions during Grab’s technical working group meeting with the LTFRB en banc in July 2017.
The said rate was also sent via e-mail to LTFRB Chairman Martin B. Delgra III on August 14, he said, noting that no concerns were raised on an e-mail response from Delgra’s office.
“There is no basis for the fine being imposed by LTFRB. We disagree with the board’s decision, and we will file an appeal to protect the ride-sharing industry in the country,” Gonzales said. He added that the LTFRB has no authority to declare the DOTr order invalid.
“Only the courts, not the LTFRB, can rule on the validity of an order especially one issued by the DOTr, which has direct supervision and control over the LTFRB,” Gonzales said.
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