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LTFRB: Uber drivers face P.2-M fine

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The Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) yesterday warned drivers of private vehicles who use the popular car service application Uber that they face a P200,000 fine.

Dennis Barrion, chief of staff of LTFRB Executive Director Roberto Cabrera, urged partner drivers of the technology application to refrain from ferrying passengers as they do not have a franchise allowing them to operate.

Through Uber, passengers can connect to drivers and book a trip to their destinations. They input their credit card information when they register and they are later informed how much the trip cost.

The application, which operates globally, was launched in the Philippines almost a year ago.

The LTFRB on Wednesday arrested a partner driver of Uber following the complaint of various groups, including that of the Philippine National Taxi Operators Association.

Barrion said a complainant booked a trip using Uber from Metrowalk in Pasig City to Quezon Memorial Circle, where the driver was apprehended by LTFRB and Land Transportation Office personnel.

The driver’s license was confiscated and the vehicle, a black Toyota Fortuner, was impounded for franchise violation.

A penalty of P200,000 – prescribed by Joint Administrative Order 2014-01 – will be imposed on the driver of the apprehended vehicle.

Barrion said their legal team is studying the liability of Uber for the violation, noting that the penalty for operating without a franchise is imposed on drivers or operators.

Earlier, LTFRB Chairman Winston Ginez reportedly said that Uber may face charges for violating the Public Service Law as it acts as a “conduit” by facilitating the commission of a violation.

‘Not exempted’

Meanwhile, Barrion maintained that Uber drivers are not exempted from the rule requiring franchises for car rental services.

LTFRB Memorandum Circular 2011-008 listed two conditions when rental vehicles are exempt from securing franchises: when the private company is covered by a long-term lease contract between the lessee and the car rental company owner; or  when the vehicle is used exclusively by the lessee or his or her representative.

Barrion said Uber driver neither satisfies the conditions set by the memorandum.

He urged drivers to instead apply for franchises at the agency if they want to operate as a car rental service provider.

Users hit back

Following the apprehension, a number of Uber users criticized the LTFRB for trying to shut down the service.

Digital marketing pioneer Carlo Ople, in a commentary on unbox.ph, called LTFRB officials “shortsighted and backward thinking” over the incident.

Ople decried LTFRB for trying to shut down a service that made life easier for commuters, saying it is the responsibility of the agency to protect and safeguard commuters. He said he had been robbed twice while riding a taxi.

But according to Barrion, protecting the commuters is the very reason on why they started a crackdown against Uber drivers.

“The vehicles are not being inspected… There is no insurance,” he said.

In a statement published in astig.ph, Uber called the apprehension of their partner driver as “unfairly done.”

“As we have always assured you – and all our partners in the 220+ cities we operate in globally – we will support you and seek swift resolution to this incident,” read the statement. The Philippine Star

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