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Senators wary on impact of Uber buyout by Grab

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By Hannah Torregoza

Senators on Tuesday said they are wary over the imminent acquisition of Grab Philippines of US-based Uber Technologies’ Southeast Asian business saying this new monopoly could be detrimental to the increasing number of Filipino commuters patronizing ride-sharing applications.

Senator Sherwin Gatchalian said that even though Grab nor Uber has notified the Philippine Competition Commission (PCC) about the recent buyout, the state regulator should be wary about a creation of a new monopoly in the ride-sharing industry that can be detrimental to commuters.

A ComfortDelgro taxi passes Uber and Grab offices in Singapore March 26, 2018. (REUTERS/Edgar Su / MANILA BULLETIN)

A ComfortDelgro taxi passes Uber and Grab offices in Singapore March 26, 2018. (REUTERS/Edgar Su / MANILA BULLETIN)

“In the absence of any competition, the PCC should keep a close eye on any possible anti-competitive practices that will take advantage of this situation,” Gatchalian said.

“We believe that this buyout is not favorable to the Filipino commuters as it would lessen choices for all of us,” the senator said.

The PCC, he said, should ensure that despite the merger, commuters are still entitled to fair and better ride-sharing services from major transport network companies TNCs operating in the country.

“The PCC is now our last bastion for fair and reasonable conduct in the ride-sharing industry,” Gatchalian said.

Senator Grace Poe, chair of the Senate committee on public services, also frowned on the latest development, as this could take a toll on Filipino commuters relying on Transport Network Vehicle Services (TNVS) for a better and convenient transportation experience.

“Although this is a business decision which should ultimately be settled between Grab and Uber, it is still imbued with public interest,” Poe pointed out.

“We all know that thousands of commuters rely on TNVS to ferry them to work and other places of destination. So the most important thing is that service to our commuters will not be disrupted,” she said.

In this regard, Poe said the Land Transportation Franchise and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) should ensure that the number of available vehicles to serve the public should at least be maintained and that the only change effected would be the ownership issue and not the service convenience and availability.

“Ideally, the more players in the market, the better for the public, because each player will compete and strive to provide better service,” Poe said.

“Perhaps the departure of Uber would open up the market for the entry of local companies into the TNVS market,” added the senator.

Read more: Uber sells SE Asia business to rival Grab

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