LTFRB execs sued for allowing Uber, Grab-Taxi to set fares without hearing
A transport group accused two officials of the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) of grave misconduct and gross neglect of duty for allowing app-based vehicle services to set fares without notice and hearing.
The Alliance of Concerned Transport Organizations, led by its president Efren de Luna, also called for the preventive suspension of LTFRB Chair Winston Ginez and Board Member Ronaldo Corpus in the complaint filed in the Ombudsman on Monday.
“The two public officials charged herein knew very well or should have known that the Public Service Act mandates that the fares to be charged by public utilities under their regulatory supervision must be pre-approved by the LTFRB after compliance with notice and hearing,” the complaint said as it cited the surge pricing being practiced by the ride-hailing app Uber.
Sought for comment on Tuesday, Ginez said he couldn’t issue a categorical comment yet as he only learned about the complaint from news reports.
“Once we receive a copy of the complaint then we will file our answer,” Ginez said. “We are going to defend (ourselves) in all these cases being filed against us and the agencies.”
1-Utak has a pending petition in the LTFRB to revoke the accreditation of transportation network vehicles while Stop and Go Transport Coalition went to court to stop the department order creating new transport categories, including the transportation network companies.
Transport agencies and app providers held consultations on how to regulate the online transport service following a sting operation against an Uber driver in October 2014. The Department of Transportation and Communications issued the order in May, creating the category for transportation network companies and their partner transportation network vehicle services.
LTFRB subsequently issued four memorandum circulars as implementing guidelines.
“Worth noting, by virtue of the circulars, the two members of the LTFRB, constituting a majority, allowed the issuance of provisional authorities to TNVS applicants upon the mere filing of an application, without the benefit of a notice and hearing, thereby paving the way for the TNVS to operate and charge fees to its riders,” the Acto complaint said.
It cited the Supreme Court judgment on the case of “Kilusang Mayo Uno Labor Center vs Hon. Garcia Jr.,” which deemed the power to regulate fares as a duty that the LTFRB must perform.
Asked for the reason behind allowing TNCs to set their fare, Ginez pointed to the DOTC.
“I have to ask DOTC because it’s in the DO. It did not come from us. We were informed but the lead was DOTC,” he said.
The complaint said the LTFRB officials were hiding behind the DO and dragging the DOTC secretary to their grave misconduct or inexcusable negligence. “There is nothing in said order that provides that the fares are not subject to the approval of the LTFRB,” it said.
Board Member Ariel Inton was not included in the complaint because he did not sign the memorandum circulars.
“Chairman Ginez and Board Member Corpus gave unwarranted benefits and advantage to TNCs and TNVS compared to other operators in other modes of service where the latter is required to go through a tedious process of notice and hearing before any fare adjustment can be made, while the former are able to adjust fares without even any hearing at all,” it said.
“The failure of the LTFRB to conduct the appropriate hearing to approve the proposed fares of the TNC/TNVS is a dereliction of duty,” it added.
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