The Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) has condemned the Land Transportation Franchising & Regulatory Board (LTFRB), calling their sting operation against Uber Philippines“unfairly done.”
News broke last Wednesday that the LTFRB impounded a black Toyota Fortuner that is part of Uber’s premium service called UberBlack. The partner driver was fined PHP 200,000 while the vehicle may be put off the road for up to 3 months.
Inquirer.net reports that the sting was done in response to a complaint from the Philippine National Taxi Operators Association (PNTOA), saying that Uber operates colorum vehicles or without the proper franchise.
“We are just being fair with legitimate franchise owners,” says LTFRB Executive Director Roberto Cabrera, quoted by Astig.ph.
However, MMDA chairman Francis Tolentino sided with Uber, saying in a statement released on Twitter Thursday that the LTFRB should support the company rather than suspending its operations and impounding its fleet.
— Official MMDA (@MMDA) October 23, 2014
While the LFTRB aims to protect the local taxi cab industry from failing, “it should not also curtail Uber’s options because of the wide range of opportunities and customer’s choice it provides.”
Launched just last February, Uber’s popularity among Manila commuters have rapidly grown. Passengers say that its fleet of clean cars and well-mannered drivers is a better and safer option compared to dilapidated taxis common in the metro. Worse, most taxis have been frequently cited to ignore commuter pleas for a ride with some even having tampered meters.
“Perhaps there is another way of looking at this system, as no irregularity under the Public Service Law, as amended, is being committed here, and has proven to be beneficial to commuters,” Tolentino said.
In a statement released hours after the LFTRB sting, the ridesharing service assured its partners locally and in over 220 cities where the company operates swift resolution to the incident. Uber is now urging its drivers to inform them if they found themselves in a similar situation.
Uber fans called to arms
In an opinion piece posted on Unbox.com, Carlo Ople, Di9it managing director, bashed the LTFRB, saying that the operation protects the interests of taxi operators while overlooking the interests of commuters.
“This smacks of hardcore lobbying by the affected taxi groups and reflects how shortsighted and backward thinking the officials are at the LTFRB,” he said.
He continues saying that the move may dissuade possible investors and entrepreneurs.
“By shutting down Uber the LTFRB is sending out a signal to future technopreneurs and companies that we are a backward country. By going after Uber, the LTFRB is showing that they favor the taxi operators over the safety of Uber Pinoy customers”
Ople said that Unbox, which he manages, is already working with various organizations including the Internet and Mobile Marketing Association of the Philippines (IMMAP) and Digital Commerce Association of the Philippines (DCOM) to draw a petition looking into the LTFRB’s decision. The paper will be submitted to senators and congressmen next week.
“The middle class have been screwed too much already. It’s time to fight back and we are more than willing to be the first ones on the beachhead, guns blazing” he said.