Bills on TNCs and TNVS to be harmonized

The House committee on transportation has approved the creation of a technical working group (TWG) that will harmonize four bills and four resolutions seeking to regulate the operation of transportation network companies (TNCs) and transportation network vehicles services (TNVS) in the country for public safety and welfare, reliability, and convenience.

The TWG will consolidate House Bills 4085, 4669, 4891, 6009 and House Resolutions 403, 573. 1140 and 1151 authored by Reps. Joseph Sto. NiAo Bernos (Lone District, Abra), Winnie Castelo (2nd District, Quezon City), Rodel Batocabe (Party-list, Ako Bicol), Jericho Jonas Nograles (Party-list, PBA), Benjamin Agarao, Jr. (4th District, Laguna), Jose Panganiban, Jr. (Party-list, ANAC IP), Michelle Antonio (Party-list, AGBIAG) and Edgar Mary Sarmiento (1st District, Samar), respectively.

Rep. Cesar Sarmiento (Lone District, Catanduanes), committee chairman and head of the TWG, said the pending bills simply legalize or formalize the existing situation by allowing the operation of TNCS and TNVS subject to the regulation of the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB).

Despite the benefits TNCs and TNVS offer, the government still needs to regulate them to ensure the roadworthiness of the vehicles, the qualifications of their drivers, the reasonability of their prices, the protection of passengers and the payment of fees and taxes. All of these must be ensured in the context of solving the traffic crisis and considering the interest of all Filipino commuters, not just TNCs and TNVS users, said Sarmiento.

He said the committee has discussed exhaustively many issues about TNCs and TNVS hence, it is about time to move forward with the TWG creation for the consolidation of the eight measures.

Castelo said the regulation of TNCs is necessary to prevent unfair or predatory practices by unscrupulous transportation network service providers and to protect public safety and welfare while recognizing that a strong, viable, private sector transport industry has a role in efforts to improve transportation mobility.

Nograles said his bill seeks to recognize TNCs and prescribe requirements, guidelines and standards for their operation. The regulation of TNCs is intended to ensure the promotion of safety and welfare of the commuting public, and at the same time maximize innovations in technology and the advantages that TNCs can offer in helping alleviate the suffering of commuters and promote the country's transportation industry, said Nograles.

Talagang magulo yung past dahil walang existing legislation (governing the TNCs and TNVS). Magtulungan na lang tayo. I want to ensure that our hearing will give clarity to the situation, he said.

Panganiban said with the anarchy in the transportation industry, Congress has to exercise its franchise-giving powers. Considering Department Order 2015-11 that created TNC and TNVS, which specifically provided that while TNVS applicants are being accredited by the TNC, the LTFRB is further directed to accede to the TNCs while waiting guidance from the legislature regulation of the new industry and promulgation of guidelines for their accreditation, said Panganiban.

Batocabe, whose HB 4891 is also authored by Reps. Alfredo Garbin, Jr. and Christopher Co, said the bill's intention is to ensure that regulation is not a hindrance but continues to be the safety net that the public can rely on for their protection in the interest of transportation development and public service.

The bill defines the nature of TNCs and TNVS. They must be responsible for the service they provide and be held liable for any breach on the contract of carriage. The bill also provides standards in the accreditation of transportation network service providers and ensure the qualification of their drivers. It also requires them to issue electronic receipts for passenger safety and taxation purposes, said Batocabe.

During the hearing, Rep. Edgar Sarmiento asked LTFRB chairman Atty. Martin Delgra III on how many TNCs and TNVS are needed in Metro Manila based on public demand.

Delgra said they are still verifying the data that were given to them. We are still verifying them. Since the numbers are coming from them, we need to understand from an objective point of view as well from a regulatory point of view having to address public demand. That's why we trying to get the help of UP, particularly the National Center for Transport Study, to verify the data that we are getting. he said.

Delgra said a JICA study in 2015, which was two years ago, hence the numbers may have grown already, showed there are about 21.5 million daily ridership in Metro Manila, 70 percent of that are taking public transportation, all types, from rail, bus, UV Express, and PUJ.

In so far as the numbers that the LTFRB got from Uber and Grab, Delgra said they are looking at a daily ridership of 115,000 each or 300,000 rides per day. You relate that to the 70 percent of 21.5 million daily ridership as of 2015, that will only constitute 1.5 or 1.6 percent, said Delgra.

Brian Cu of Grab Philippines said Grab serves about 152,000 people daily. He said 180,000 are trying to get a ride daily called booking.

Lawyer Yves Gonzales, head of policy of Uber Philippines, said Uber serves 1 million to 1.2 million riders every month.

The LTFRB also asked Uber and Grab about the relative age of their vehicles which turned out is very recent. The average age is one-and-a-half years, so basically 2016 model. We're actually putting more new cars on the road, said Delgra.

Rep. Arnolfo Teves, Jr. (3rd District, Negros Oriental) said the purpose of the hearing is to come up with a regulation of the TNCs and TNVS. The purpose of regulation is public safety, right?, Teves said.

Delgra said the purposes of regulation, among other things, are safety, reliability, convenience.

Teves said he was rather confused why Uber and Grab say they are not TNVS, only a ride-sharing app. Di ba natin pwedeng gawan ng paraan, whatever they may be, gawan na lang ng paraan na maging safe yung public. In whatever way, insurance, or they (Grab and Uber) accepting liability, said Teves.

As to the joining fees of Grab and Uber partners, Cu said there is no payment to Grab. The payment is for the franchise and legal fees involved in applying for their PA (provisional authority). The amount of P5,600 is what the partners pay to apply, he said.

Gonzales said similar to Grab, there is no joining membership fee with Uber. The costs that are incurred by TNCs as partners are all for third party, meaning to say hindi sa amin napupunta. So yun pong costs, for example CTC application, affidavit of application, DTI registration, nandun po lahat ng costs. So as of now ang nakikita naming costs sa pag-apply ng prangkisa aabot sa computation namin na P15,680, pinagsamasama na po ang mga regulatory fees to get a franchise, said Gonzales.

Rep. Maximo Rodriguez (2nd District, Cagayan de Oro City) said now is the right time to come up with a proper framework with parameters for safety and liability. "We are looking at millennials now coming up with innovations. We have to adjust a little and see how it will fit. In the meantime, we enjoy what is their innovation and new technology. To taxis, why not apply this app to you with this technology around us? It is the safety (issues) that we are concerned about, said Rodriguez.

Rodriguez said his niece was left for dead in Payatas with five stab wounds from a taxi whose driver left because another taxi came. And he (driver) was only caught because he got the ATM (card) and withdrew from the bank. The perception of my family is never to ride a taxi. But that has to be changed with this kind of proper framework that we are doing, said Rodriguez.

Panganiban and Rep. Vincent Crisologo (1st District, Quezon City) inquired how many colorum Uber and Grab vehicles were apprehended by the LTFRB. Delgra said out of the 640 something public utility vehicles (PUVs) that they apprehended, 19 of these were Uber and 16 were Grab.

Source: House of Representatives

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