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Uber slapped with P190-M fine

By VANNE ELAINE P. TERRAZOLA

The Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) ordered Uber to pay a P190-million fine in exchange for the lifting of its August 14 suspension order against the erring ride-sharing company.

The LTFRB late Friday night announced granting Uber’s appeal to shorten its one-month suspension order and pay instead a fine to make up for repeatedly violating the regulatory body’s order not to accept new drivers and operators.

“The Board thus rule to grant the prayer of respondent (Uber) to lift the suspension imposed in its order of 14 August 2017 in lieu thereof, imposes a fine of P190 million,” the order, signed August 25, read.

Lizada said the R190-million fine was based on the average P7-10 million Uber earns from its 150,000 ridership per day, multiplied to the 19 remaining days of the suspension which was supposed to be effective until September 15.

She said the amount, once paid, will go to the national treasury.

Aside from the fine, Uber was ordered to remit P19.9 million daily as compensation to its 36,367 transport vehicle network service (TVNS) operators who were affected by the suspension.

The ride-sharing company should show the LTFRB a certification from its depository bank to prove its compliance.

LTFRB spokesperson Aileen Lizada said the lifting of the suspension, however, will depend on the time Uber will pay the fine and remit the financial assistance.

“Tuesday will be the earliest, but the Board needs that one condition from the bank,” she said when asked when Uber can pay up the fine.

Uber was ordered suspended last August 14 for defying the LTFRB’s July 26 order to stop accepting further new TVNS applications while the government threshes out the issues of the ride-sharing industry.

Following the public outcry and prodding from senators, the LTFRB allowed Uber to file an appeal to cut short its suspension.

Uber offered a P10-million fine in exchange for the month-long suspension. The regulatory agency conducted a hearing on the proposal last Wednesday, August 23.

Lizada also explained that the September 14 due of the 30-day suspension was extended to September 15 after Uber resumed its operations for a day without the LTFRB’s consent when it filed the appeal last August 17.

Last month, the LTFRB slapped Uber and its rival Grab each a R5-million fine for continuing to accept and activate TVNS operators under their platforms despite the July 2016 moratorium.

BACK ON STREET NEXT WEEK
Sought for comment, Uber Philippine’s Communication Head Cat Avelino said they are “working hard to meet the conditions of the lifting of the suspension.”

She refused to answer, however, if the company would oppose the penalty imposed by the LTFRB.

She only said they “hope to resume operations as soon as possible.”

But in a response to a netizen, Uber Philippines, in its Twitter account, said it expects to resume operations “this coming week.”

It also assured to provide the cash assistance to its operators until the suspension is lifted.

LATE DECISION HIT
Senator Grace Poe expressed dismay over the LTFRB’S late announcement of the penalty meted on Uber.

“I am quite disappointed that the LTFRB decision was issued late Friday, effectively taking out any opportunity for Uber to pay the penalties. It is frustrating to think that we have a long weekend ahead of us…How will Uber be able to immediately comply with the LTFRB decision given that banks are closed during the weekend?” Poe said in statement.

“If the LTFRB had allowed Uber to operate right away, then this could have served as great relief to our people, most of whom rely on TVNS due to the comfort, reliability, and safety they provide,” she further SAID.

Poe, chair of the Senate committee on public services, mediated last August 16 between LTFRB and Uber executives during a dialogue where both parties agreed that the erring ride-sharing company pay a hefty fine instead of serving the month-long suspension.

The senator, in welcoming the LTFRB’s decision, said the P190-million fine “should be enough to make Uber rethink its actions and re-evaluate its strategy in testing the extent of government regulations.”

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