LTFRB lifts Uber’s 1-month suspension, but slaps it with a P190-M fine

August 26, 2017 - 12:43 AM
The Aug. 25 LTFRB order lifting Uber's suspension. INTERAKSYON IMAGE

MANILA – (UPDATE 3 – 10:51 A.M.) The Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board has granted the prayer of Uber for the lifting of its one-month suspension, but slapped a hefty fine on the transport network company: P190 million or 19 times what Uber had offered, the amount to be remitted to the national treasury.

The decision issued late Friday (Aug 25) by the board also directed Uber to fulfill its commitment to render financial assistance to over 36,000 peer-operators whose livelihood was disrupted by the suspension. The assistance was set at P19.949 million daily, to be provided “until the day when services [of Uber] are restored,” said the order.

Such restoration, in turn will happen after Uber “has paid the amount of the FINE and the said financial assistance is remitted”, according to the order signed by LTFRB chair Martin Delgra III and two board members: Engr. Ronaldo Corpus and Atty. Aileen Lizada.

Uber had earlier offered to pay a fine of P10 million in lieu of the one-month suspension imposed last Aug. 14, saying the suspension would hurt other parties: the Uber riders, who have found relief from the difficult commute in Metro Manila, and the peer-operators.

The LTFRB said it based its computation of the P190-million fine on the average daily income of Uber (P7 million-10 million), multiplied by the days in which the company should remain suspended were the one-month suspension allowed to run its course.

The suspension can only be lifted once Uber has paid the fine–meaning, not earlier than Tuesday, Aug. 29.

The assistance to be received by each driver or operator will be based on the latter’s performance in the past 28 days.

The LTFRB said its order “is without prejudice to the resolution of the petition to review the accreditation filed by Uber.”

Poe: cheers to lifting, jeers to late timing

Sen. Grace Poe, who had earlier castigated LTFRB for issuing a long suspension that she said would not just punish the violator (Uber) but also innocent third parties like the riding public and the peer-operators, welcomed the LTFRB decision to lift the suspension.

She also agreed with the imposition of the fine. However, she deplored the lateness of the order–Friday night, preventing a chance for Uber to pay up, and thus leaving people without the TNVS option on a long weekend.

Here’s her statement:

“I welcome the decision of the LTFRB to penalize Uber with a fine instead of having it serve the remainder of its 30-day suspension. The payment of a hefty P190 million penalty as a pre-condition before it can resume operations should be enough to make Uber rethink its actions and reevaluate its strategy in testing the extent of government regulations. Likewise, I welcome the P20 million financial assistance Uber has to pay its drivers daily, which also serves as a form of penalty.

“However, I am quite disappointed that the LTFRB decision was issued late Friday afternoon, effectively taking out any opportunity for Uber to pay the penalties.

“It is frustrating to think that we have a long weekend ahead of us and people will have to suffer the inconvenience of having limited transportation choices in going around the Metro with their families. How will Uber be able to immediately comply with the LTFRB decision given that banks are closed during the weekend?

“If the LTFRB had allowed Uber to operate right away, then this could have served as a great relief to our people, most of whom rely on TNVS due to the comfort, reliability, and safety they provide.”

Uber working double time

In a text message to InterAksyon Saturday morning, Catherine Avelino, Uber head of communications for the Philippines, said: “We’re working hard to meet the conditions for the lifting of the suspension and hope to resume operations as soon as possible.”

Uber also said they will pay the P190-million fine.

Globally, Uber’s market value is currently pegged at around $51-billion.