Transport groups file complaint vs Uber

MANILA – Several transport groups on Wednesday filed a complaint before the Quezon City Prosecutor’s Office for operating as “colorum” or without proper documents.

The complaint comes after the one-month suspension imposed by the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board against the transport network company (TNC).

Based on the complaint filed by Kilusan sa Pagbabago ng Industriya ng Transportasyon chairman Vigor Mendoza II, Melencio “Boy” Vargas of the Alliance of Transport Operators and Drivers Association of the Philippines, Federation of Jeepney Operators and Drivers Associations of the Philippines (Fejodap) President Zenaida Maranan, Alliance of Concerned Transport Organizations (ACTO) president Efren de Luna, Pasang Masda President Roberto Martin, Orlando Marquez of the Liga ng Transportasyon at Opereytor sa Pilipinas and Fermin Octobre of the Drivers Unite for Mass Progress Equality and Reality (DUMPER), Uber has accredited 74,687 vehicles but only 21,353 have been authorized by the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB).

This means that the remaining 53,334 vehciles are ‘colorum’ or operating illegally.

“These vehicles were operating without a valid authority from the LTFRB, thus colorum…Respondents [Uber officials], as officers and members of the Board of Director of Uber, knowingly and willfully violated the orders of the LTFRB, and consented and approved their company’s illegal activity of operating vehicles as public utilities without the proper and valid authority coming from the LTFRB, otherwise known as ‘colorum’ activities,” the complainants said.

Complainants said they are not against Uber but against its stance “of wanting to be above the law.”

“Operating more than 50,000 colorum vehicles sets a dangerous precedent, and if not stopped would wreck havoc to the country’s transport plans and programs, specifically the Modernization Program, which aims to enhance transport service and uplift the lives of transport workers,” the complaint stated.

“If Uber can get away with this, then all other modes of transport service might as well forget their franchise and just operate as colorum, just like Uber,” they added.

Complainants also noted that LTFRB already ordered TNCs to suspend accepting applications for additional vehicles, but still, Uber continued to accept new applicants.

They added that despite LTFRB’s order suspending Uber’s operation, it continued with its operation citing the experience of a certain Kenneth Lugtu who managed to book Uber services on Aug. 15, a day after the LTFRB suspended its operation.

On Tuesday, LTFRB Board Member Aileen Lizada said Uber’ suspension remains in effect despite its pending motion for reconsideration asking the LTFRB to lift the suspension order issued Monday.

Lizada said the agency will continue to apprehend the transport network vehicle services (TNVS) of Uber if they were found to be still operating on the road.

In its motion, Uber stated that the LTFRB suspension order against it was a “blatant violation” of its right to due process.

Furthermore, it said that there was no proof it violated the LTFRB’s order stop the activation of new drivers.

“Over the course of this morning, tens of thousands of riders were left stranded, causing needless inconvenience, while drivers were unable to access the earning opportunities they rely on. We are looking forward to urgently resolving this matter with LTFRB in the interests of everyone who depends on Uber every day,” Uber said in its official Facebook page.

Lizada questioned Uber for resuming operations despite the suspension order, after filing the MR.

“What Uber did now saying that they will now be online, they are putting at risk all of its TNVS. What kind of a partner is that? We want Uber to uphold a level of accountability and not leave their TNVS partners behind,” Lizada said.

She further said that the board considers Uber’s continuing operations despite the suspension of its accreditation as acts of contempt.

For his part, LTFRB Chairman Martin Delgra III reiterated that the mere acceptance of Uber of new drivers into its system is already a violation of its order.

He said the board has apprehended 19 “colorum” Uber and 16 “colorum” Grab TNVS which have no certificates of public convenience or provisional authority.

“The TNCs have already admitted that some of their TNVS are colorum. We just want this problem to be nipped in the bud before it becomes worse,” Delgra said.

“We are supporting innovations in our transportation system through the use of modern technology but we also want to ensure that these will be compliant with the law,” he added.

Lizada explained that the LTFRB only wants to ensure that TNCs will be able to protect the welfare of their TNVS partners.

“It is incumbent upon the Board to choose TNCs that will protect the welfare of TNVS. This is not a fight; we just want to support TNCs that protect the public welfare,” she said.

In its order, the LTFRB directed Uber to cease and desist the operations of its online booking applications.

It is holding the TNC responsible for all its accredited “colorum” TNVS apprehended during the suspension period, if these were discovered, that they continue to accept passengers using their mobile application.

“The latest irresponsible act of the Respondent Uber is not about pushing innovation in the context of fair regulation but it is about unduly challenging the limit of fair regulation to continue to engage in business in this country thereby compromising sound business practices. In effect, adversely creating an uneven playing field for the rest of the stakeholders, among them franchise holders of public transport services covering taxis, buses, UV Express and public utility jeepneys, who are also governed by the same regulation,” the LTFRB said in its order.