While Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board Chairman Martin Delgra III doesn’t want to second-guess the decision of the LTFRB board on Grab Philippines’ case in relation to its allegedly illegal P2-per-minute additional charge on its riders, he said the body’s ruling would definitely have an influence on the status of the transportation network company (TNC)’s accreditation.
“I don’t want to preempt the decision of the board on that matter, it’s a bit complicated, so to speak. But I’ll just like to put in the context na nakapagnegosyo ‘yong Grab…dahil do’n sa accreditation na nakuha nila galing sa LTFRB. So there will be a bearing on the status of the accreditation whatever will be the decision of the board,”Delgra said Thursday during an interview with DZRH’s Damdaming Bayan program with Cesar Chavez.
The LTFRB chairman’s statement was his reply to Chavez’s query on what Delgra’s office would do in the event that the board finds proof that Grab’s charging is indeed illegal.
The LTFRB chief was interviewed by DZRH immediately after Puwersa ng Bayaning Atleta (PBA) party-list Rep. Jericho Jonas Nograles in a separate interview maintained his allegation that Grab had illegally charged its commuters P2 per minute on top the TNC’s P40 per 12-kilometer base fare and a surcharge of up to 1.5 times the normal fare.
The lawmaker reiterated that Grab’s extra charge was without authorization from the LTFRB and that the company owed its riders at least P2.5 billion in “illegal” fare collection for the last 10 months.
Earlier, Grab denied Nograles’ accusation. The TNC’s public affairs head and official spokesperson, Leo Gonzales, said LTFRB was aware of the firm’s pricing structure.
“Department Order 2015-011 allowed TNCs to set its own fares with the oversight of the LTFRB,” Gonzales said.
“In June 2017, Grab, upon review of its pricing structure, initiated per minute pricing of 2 pesos. This was integrated to the existing per kilometer charges and is not added to the upfront fares,” Gonzales said.
“The per-minute charges were implemented to ensure that despite serious congestion issues on the road on a daily basis, hard-working TNVS drivers would have a greater chance of making ends meet and supporting their needs. During this time, we corresponded with the LTFRB to present these changes and was given the opportunity to present in full our business model, supply and demand models and pricing structure during one of the Technical Working Group meetings in late July 2017,” the Grab official added.
LTFRB asks Grab to explain
Grab officials were summoned to an April 17 hearing by the LTFRB board to explain their side of the issue, according to Delgra.
“(N)agpalabas po kami ng show cause order and we are calling on Grab to appear before the board on Tuesday…to explain their position,” the LTFRB chief said, adding that his office had also invited representatives from the office of Nograles to attend the public hearing.
Asked by Chavez on Thursday whether Grab’s move to initiate a per-minute pricing of P2 was not authorized by the LTFRB, Delgra said, “Tama po kayo [You are right] when you talk about not having been authorized.”
“Kasi the position of Grab as you have read in the statement is that p’wede silang mag-initiate sa pagbabago ng kanilang fare structure,” Delgra said. However, the LTFRB chief said the move “should have been approved” by his office.
In Department Order 2015-011 issued on May 8, 2015 by then Department of Transportation and Communications Secretary Joseph Emilio Abaya, TNCs were allowed to set fare “subject to oversight from the LTFRB in cases of abnormal disruptions of the market such as, but not limited to any
change in the market, whether actual or imminently threatened, resulting from the following:
–stress of weather
–convulsion of nature
–failure or shortage of electric power or other source of energy
–national or local emergency
–other cause of an abnormal disruption of the market which results in the declaration of a state of emergency by the President
The same order mandated the LTFRB to” promulgate the relevant implementing Memorandum Circular within thirty (30) days from date hereof.”
“I’ll just like to put this in context, ‘yong oversight function by the LTFRB was already exercised as early as December 2016. So what I’m saying is that when we issue an order, in a way, we put our foot down on whatever initiative or fare structure that any TNCs would have decided on especially on what happened in December of 2016,” Delgra said.
“So ngayon, nagreklamo na naman ‘yong mga tao dahil sa nagtaasan ‘yong mga pamasahe dahil nga do’n sa sinabi, in-admit na ng Grab na may nailagay pala sila na dagdag na pasahe [So now, the people are complaining that the fares have increased because of Grab’s admission that it hiked the fare] by way of what you call travel time rate of P2 per minute,” he added.