File photo shows Ilocos Norte Gov. Imee Marcos arrives at Comelec to file her COC for the Senate race.
Philstar.com/Erwin Cagadas
Imee Marcos slams Grab for high fares, calls for legalization of motorcycle taxis
Franco Luna (Philstar.com) - December 18, 2019 - 2:23pm

MANILA, Philippines — Sen. Imee Marcos slammed ride-sharing app Grab on Wednesday for raising fares despite regulation by the Philippine Competition Commission (PCC) and the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB), which imposes a set fare matrix on services of their kind. 

This, after PCC hit Grab with yet another penalty of more than P16 million for their reported fare surges and incidents of canceled rides. 

READ: Grab slapped with new P16.15-million penalty for breaching price, service quality promises

"How will Grab explain that? Monopolies tend to push limits and cross the line of abuse, so we in the government must remain vigilant of sectors imbued with public interest like water and transport," Marcos said in a press statement.

The economic policies of ousted dictator Ferdinand Marcos' decades-long presidency were characterized by state-run monopolies, among others.  

The ride-sharing app has long enjoyed a de facto monopoly in the country since it acquired the Southeast Asian operations of its direct competitor Uber and despite entries into the market by smaller players. 

Sen. Sherwin Gatchalian on Tuesday called for the LTFRB to re-assess the fare matrix used by Grab. 

He also called for more players to enter the ride-sharing industry, saying that this would give riders more choices to choose from. 

Grab has defended their operations as being well "within the approved matrix of the LTFRB," citing their limited manpower being unable to meet the skyrocketing demand during the holiday season as one reason for the sudden spike in fares. 

But the PCC in a statement released by the Philippine Information Agency in November maintained that the commission held Grab Philippines to a number of voluntary commitments aimed at addressing the existing concerns on Grab's status within the ride-sharing market. These were the same commitments that the ride-sharing giant supposedly violated, which led to the previous penalty.

One of these commitments reads:

Grab shall ensure that its Overall Average Fare for the monitoring month shall not exceed the System-Wide Average Fare Cap for the corresponding month. The monthly average fare cap restricts Grab’s ability to increase prices beyond pre-transaction levels, limiting the average fare increase to 22.5% in most months.

Sen. Marcos claimed that "a one-kilometer ride that used to cost less than P100 can now cost P245 via GrabCar or from P231 to P346 via GrabTaxi."

Marcos bats for motorcycle-taxi service

"Sana umangkas na ang LTFRB sa diwa ng Pasko at regaluhan na ng siguradong trabaho ang mga Angkas drivers," Marcos said.

She was referring to motorcycle ride-hailing app Angkas, which was previously denied operations by the LTFRB over concerns that they did not hold the authority to grant certificates of public conveyance to their operators.

Marcos has long been in favor of the motorcycle transportation alternative. In 2018, she was vocal about her disagreement with the temporary restraining order placed on the company, saying it robbed Filipinos of another alternative to avoiding traffic. 

Today, even Angkas is facing the possibility of new competition among two-wheeled transportation providers. 

In a statement released on December 10, the Department of Transportation announced a six-month extension of its motorcycle taxi service pilot implementation. 

They said this measure would give way for new motorcycle taxi providers “in the interest of giving the riding public a wider choice and thus push the multiple providers to ensure a higher standard of service.” 

Traffic crisis 

"The country's most congested urban areas - Metro Manila, Cebu, Davao - are crying out for the convenience of more ride-hailing services," Marcos added.

RELATED: Workers group hits government lack of transpo plan

Grab Philippines, too, blamed the worseing traffic as one factor behind their breach of commitment. 

“Grab is hopeful on fulfilling its commitments to the PCC, however, it highlights that as a platform, pricing will still be influenced by factors such as lack of supply and traffic situation,” they said in a separate statement.

Transport and worker groups alike have bemoaned the traffic situation in the country, calling it a sign of a mass transportation crisis. This came after three mass transit systems in Metro Manila all experienced technical difficulties in the same week. 

Angkas CEO Angeline Tham at a forum in November conceded that there was indeed a traffic crisis, especially for the general commuting public, that needed immediate attention. 

RELATED: Solutions to Metro Manila traffic 'coming along,' NEDA exec says

"There is a consensus of what defines Metro Manila that everyone agrees on: traffic and congestion. It takes an average of five minutes to drive one kilometer," she said. 

"There’s a traffic epidemic that plagues us here. It affects our choices, freedom, and mental health. What about the regular commuter and his options?"

At the same forum, she acknowledged that the concerns the LTFRB held with her company were completely valid. She said it was not easy to convince the government that Angkas was safe. 

“The government should care about the welfare of its people,” she said. 

GRAB PHILIPPINES IMEE MARCOS LTFRB PCC RIDE SHARING SHERWIN GATCHALIAN TRAFFIC CRISIS UBER
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