Group mulls anti-monopoly bill vs Grab, other companies working in transport sector

James Relativo - Philstar.com
A woman walks past the Grab transport office in Singapore on September 24, 2018.
AFP / Roslan Rahman

MANILA, Philippines — A network of digital advocates is urging the government to come up with anti-monopoly measures in order to prevent transport network vehicle service (TNVS) companies from controlling the whole transportation sector.

Grab Philippines, a famous TNVS service, is currently offering ride hailing services for cars and taxis. In 2022, it acquired Move It — a motorcycle taxi service while offering tricycle-hailing services in five provinces. It also acquired the operations of its former competitor Uber in Southeast Asia.

"If Grab ventured into the tricycle hailing service, what stops them from also going after buses, UV express service, jeepneys and even pedicabs," according to Ronald Gustilo, national campaigner of Digital Pinoys.

"While this possibility may seem good at first glance, it may actually lead into chaos on our roads as it will destroy competition in our public transportation system," he added.

Gustilo said this as pubic utility vehicles like traditional jeepneys and UV Express face possible phaseout by Dec. 31, 2023 should they fail to consolidate and join corporations or cooperatives, a move being done to push for their modernization into electric minibuses.

Instead of better services for drivers and cheaper fares for passengers, the group claimed that Grab's acquisition of Uber actually "worsened" conditions, this while commiting numerous violations over alleged overpricing causing them to pay millions in fines and give credits to riders.

"The government should enact a law to prevent companies like Grab who will try to live up to its name and Grab and swallow everything in its sight," said Gustilo.

"The [Philippine Competition Commission] should also enforce its oversight function to intercept any attempt to consolidate numerous services under a single banner. The government should ensure that Grab will not monopolize the digital transportation and logistics industry. If it happens, it will kill all competition and throw our public transport system in a chaotic state that may cause irreversible damage to the sector," he added.

Aside from the transportation sector, the company is currently making waves in the food delivery and on-demand parcel delivery services via Grab Food and Grab Express.

Grab still has not issued a comment regarding this statement as of press time.

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