Grab: P2 per minute charge is legal

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Grab
GRAB Philippines said it is studying legal options after the regulator imposed a P10-million fine on the company. — AFP

GRAB Philippines maintained that its P2 per minute waiting time charge was legal, saying it will study its legal options regarding the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) order that slapped a P10-million fine on the company for allegedly overcharging passengers.

“We stand by the legality of the P2 per minute fare component and we are disappointed by the order of LTFRB. We would like to reiterate that it is legal, pursuant to the Department Order 2015-011,” Grab Philippines Country Head Brian P. Cu said in a statement.

Mr. Cu said the company is studying its legal options regarding the LTFRB order. “But no matter how we decide to move forward from this, be assured Grab will stay,” he said.

Meanwhile, LTFRB Board Member Aileen Lourdes A. Lizada issued a dissenting opinion on the LTFRB order, saying Grab Philippines’ fare structure had a legal basis.

“The authority given the transport network companies to formulate their fare structure can be clearly seen from Department Order No. 2015-011 of the Department of Transportation,” she said, in a dissenting opinion released on Wednesday.

Ms. Lizada said the P2 per minute charge was communicated to the LTFRB board through the Office of the Chairman, contrary to what the LTFRB said in its order released to reporters on Tuesday.

Last month, Transportation Secretary Arthur P. Tugade signed a new department order putting LTFRB in charge of setting fares for transport network companies (TNC), superseding the 2015 policy which allowed Grab to set its own fare matrix.

But Ms. Lizada said since the Department of Transportation (DoTr) order was issued was after the P2 per minute component was implemented, Grab Philippines should be “afforded good faith in setting its fare structure.”

“Penalties should be imposed upon effectivity of the regulatory policy,” she added.

In its July 9 order, the LTFRB imposed a P10-million fine on Grab Philippines for allegedly overcharging its customers, saying it failed to inform the board of its P2 per minute waiting time charge. It also ordered the company to reimburse riders through a rebate system the P2 per minute charge it implemented from June 5, 2017 to April 19, when it was suspended.

The order indicated Grab Philippines “failed to impress the Board that its imposition of the per minute travel fare is within purview of its discretion or authority.” It noted the P2 per minute charging scheme is “invalid and without authority from the Board.”

Grab Philippines may file a motion for reconsideration within 15 days since the LTFRB order was issued. If denied, it may appeal its case to the DoTr. — Denise A. Valdez