MANILA Senate President Aquilino "Koko" Pimentel III on Wednesday urged the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) to fast-track the entry of other transport network vehicle service (TNVS) players in the country to ensure competition and assure reasonable prices for Philippine TNVS users.
Pimentel made the statement following news of the imminent exit of ride-hailing platform pioneer Uber from the country next week.
On March 26, Singapore-based Grab acquired Uber's Southeast Asia operations, covering ride-sharing services in the Philippines, as well as Uber's operations in Cambodia, Indonesia, Malaysia, Myanmar, Singapore, Thailand, and Vietnam.
Uber's last day of operations in the Philippines will be on April 8.
Pimentel said that given these developments, it was incumbent upon the LTFRB to work overtime to process pending TNVS applications and to ensure that Grab would not take advantage of its monopoly of the TNVS industry.
Many regular TNVS users regularly compared the rates of Uber and Grab before booking a ride an option that will no longer be available to commuters when Grab becomes the sole TNVS provider come April 9, he noted.
"There is a legitimate fear among regular TNVS users that Grab's acquisition of Uber's operations in the country will lead to higher fares, which is the natural consequence when a player monopolizes a particular industry," he said.
He said that it would be beneficial if any one of them starts operation, referring to the reported application of other local ride-sharing companies for accreditation to operate in the country.
Last week, the LTFRB said that Go Lag, Owto, and Hype were in the process of completing their TNVS accreditations before the agency.
"The LTFRB announcement that there are three new ride-sharing companies that want to enter the country can only be considered good news if any or all of these companies actually get to service our countrymen," Pimentel said.
"We need real competition, not potential competition. As long as riders have zero options, they will be vulnerable to overpricing and poor service and this is where the LTFRB must come in," he added.
He also called on the LTFRB to "strike a balance between encouraging the entry of new players and the need for these players to comply with the country's TNVS guidelines."
He urged the LTFRB to pay close attention to feedback from TNVS users and put in place mechanisms to immediately act on rider complaints.
"Social media has provided the LTFRB with the tools to monitor the prices and the performance of Grab after Uber exits. But the real test will be how they respond to the feedback from commuters. LTFRB should be ready to act on complaints to discourage Grab and its drivers from violating TNVS rules and regulations, Pimentel said.
Source: Philippine News Agency