MANILA — Senator Grace Poe has summoned officials of the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) to an urgent meeting in the Senate Wednesday, a day after the board suspended services of ride-hailing service Uber for a month.
Poe, in a statement, said that she was hopeful that the meeting with the LTFRB would help resolve the issue as public interest requires the Senate to exercise congressional oversight.
She described the decision of LTFRB to suspend Uber services as “cruel and absurd.”
“I am aghast that this agency that committed before the Senate to resolve the issues has just imposed a cure that will only make the disease much worse. It does not solve the problem, but further exacerbates the problem of having an utter lack of safe, reliable, and convenient transportation options for our people,” Poe said.
Poe, chair of the Senate Committee on Public Services, described the LTFRB’s suspension order as a “defiance of the LTFRB officials’ commitment to provide a solution to the issues surrounding transport network vehicle services (TNVS) operations.”
“When the Senate Committee on Public Services, during the last hearing, asked them to straighten out issues with the Transport Network Companies by October, the committee did not mean for them to suspend the operations of any TNC,” Poe said.
“I was wrong to think that the LTFRB was on the same page with the Committee on how to come up with remedial rules pending the crafting of pertinent legislation,” she added.
Poe said that the LTFRB suspended Uber’s services not because of lack of roadworthiness but because of “a mere administrative violation” which should have merited a corresponding administrative penalty.
The senator pointed out that Uber’s penalty should not limit the public of their transport options.
She further said that the public deserved to have options when it comes to choosing convenient, safe, and reliable transportation services to brave the daily punishing traffic jam.
“Why can’t the LTFRB be innovative in coming up with an appropriate penalty that is fair and that will not prejudice the riding public? Is there no other less crippling penalty at our disposal? Thirty days is a long time,” Poe said.
“Without reliable public transportation, those who depend on Uber for their daily commute will have to find an alternative or revert to their long and usual daily grind. Was the interest of the riding public, that is now compromised and jeopardized, ever factored in when the LTFRB came up with the suspension order?” she added.
Automotive journalist James Deakin, in a statement, said that he supported the LTFRB’s decision to suspend Uber for a month but expressed hope that the board would be equally accountable for not doing their job in other areas.
“As big a fan as I am of ride sharing, I support the LTFRB’s decision to suspend Uber for a month. Harsh as it may be, rules are rules. And if Uber broke those rules by accrediting vehicles after the deadline, then so be it. The LTFRB are just doing their job. We have to respect that,” Deakin said.
“I hope that in the spirit of fairness we can also hold the LTFRB equally accountable for not doing their job in other areas. After all, rules are rules,” he added.
He, meanwhile, urged the LTFRB to also suspend operations of other public transport vehicles that transport passengers without permits. (PNA)