by Chito Chavez
Several transport groups on Wednesday charged transport network company Uber with violation of the Public Service Act before the Quezon City Prosecutors’ Office, the first case filed against the foreign company.
Named respondents were Rob Van Der Woude, Jacqueline Kaurek, Elena Cueva, Manuel Cosico, Charlotte Feraren Aguba-Goco, and Karen Walker – all officers of Uber.
Included in the complaint were Uber drivers Joseph Ravile and Jenell Flores.
The complaint was filed by transport leaders Melencio Vargas, Zenaida Maranan, Efren de Luna, Roberto Martin, Orlando Marquez, Vigor Mendoza and Fermin Octobre.
Mendoza, who chairs the transport group Kapit, said Uber accredited at least 74,687 Transport Network Vehicle Service (TNVS) but only 21,353 were authorized by the Land Transportation Franchising Board (LTFRB) to operate. This means, 53,334 Uber TNVS are operating as colorum units.
Mendoza said that they are not against Uber but it is acting above the law.
Uber is a foreign corporation 99 percent owned by Uber International Holdings B.V., a Dutch firm with principal office at Amsterdam, Netherlands.
It was registered in the Philippine Securities Exchange Commission on December 27, 2013 to provide support to other companies for on-demand services through mobile devices and web-based request and related services.
LTFRB accredited Uber as a Transport Network Company (TNC) on May 8, 2015 and LTFRB started receiving complaints since 2015.
ANARCHY ON THE ROAD
On Monday, LTFRB suspended the operations of Uber for violating its July 26 order directing it to stop accrediting Uber drivers. As proof of the violation, LTFRB chair Martin Delgra III said they were able to register at least three vehicles – an LTFRB registered vehicle and two vehicles owned by its employees – on the Uber website and was accredited.
The suspension came 26 days after Uber were fined P5 million for violating provisions of the franchise contract with the government.
But despite the suspension order, Uber resumed operations as it filed an appeal for its suspension. It only deactivated its app after LTFRB denied its appeal.
Delgra stressed government cannot be cowed or bullied by any transport group defying lawful regulations no matter how unpopular the decision may be. The agency could have easily canceled Uber’s accreditation but decided otherwise in recognition of the company’s contribution to the country’s transport system.
“We have to strike a balance between innovation and technology. But innovation should not be pushed too far na mawawalan ng bisa ang batas otherwise we will have anarchy on the road,” Delgra said
Due to the numerous violations, Delgra said the board found it easy to resolve the motion.
The LTFRB chief said Uber had declared that it has at least 66,000 activated units while Grab has at least 55,000 units. But the agency has received reports that the actual number of Uber drivers is more than what the company declared.
This is not the first time Uber has clashed with government regulators. Because of its regulatory disagreements, Uber is either banned or not allowed to operate in Taiwan, Bulgaria, Denmark, Italy, Hungary, Austin (Texas), Alaska, Oregon, Vancouver, and Northern Territory of Australia.
LTFRB board member and spokesperson Aileen Lizada said Uber deserved the one month suspension because of its horrendous violations that put public safety in peril.
Lizada said since Uber started operations in 2015 passengers have already complained about arrogant, rude Uber drivers and drivers who threaten their passengers. In 2016, LTFRB received complaints of overcharging, sexual harassment, system glitch, rape, peer — system failure of its application, vehicular accidents and the operation of colorum units.
This year, Lizada said Uber supposedly failed to grant student fare discounts, refused to convey passengers, overcharged the passengers, refused to grant senior citizen discounts, and employed discourteous drivers.
Lizada noted that aside from a breach in its contract Uber also refused to divulge information on erring its driver or operator while failing to provide safe and adequate comfort to the public.
Lizada also cited an incident where an Uber driver rammed into a motorcycle that resulted to the rider’s hospitalization.
Uber, according to its supposed accreditation is not accountable or liable to shoulder the medical expenses of the victim.
But Yves Gonzales, Uber’s government relations and public policy head, said all trips booked through its app is insured under the Passenger Accident Management and Insurance Agency, Inc. (PAMI) even for colorum units.
A passenger is covered up to P100,000 for injuries such as “total and irrevocable loss of all sight in one eye, and total loss by physical severance at or above the wrist or ankle of one hand or one foot.”