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Grab slapped with P10-M fine for overcharging passengers

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THE LAND Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) has imposed a P10-million fine on Grab Philippines (MyTaxi.PH) for allegedly overcharging passengers over a ten-month period.

At the same time, Grab Philippines was also ordered by the LTFRB to reimburse its passengers who were charged with a P2 per-minute waiting time charge from June 5, 2017 to April 19, 2018 through rebates for future rides.

In an order dated July 9, 2018, the LTFRB said the rebate will apply only to Grab passengers who were charged the P2 per-minute waiting time rate, and will be available for 20 days.

“The amount of the rebate shall be limited to the portion of the income of the respondent only, directly related to or arising from the P2 per minute (charge) during the period of its unauthorized imposition,” the order by LTFRB Chairman Martin B. Delgra III read.

The LTFRB said Grab “failed to impress the Board that its imposition of the per minute travel fare is within purview of its discretion or authority.” It added, the P2 per minute charge is “invalid and without authority from the Board,” therefore Grab must “suffer its consequences.”

The LTFRB acknowledged that if it computed the P5,000 penalty for each case of overcharging done by Grab during the period, the penalty would amount to “trillions of pesos.” This was why it only considered Grab’s overcharging as “one continuing offense.”

“Imposing such amount may not only be considered excessive or disproportionate to the violation committed, but might also result to the cessation of respondent TNCs (transport network companies) services which will affect not only the transportation system of key cities in our country but also the employment of thousands of drivers… as well as the adverse effect of the same upon our economy,” it said.

LTFRB said Grab may still file a motion for reconsideration within 15 days. If its motion is denied, it may turn to the Department of Transportation (DoTr) to file an appeal.

Grab Philippines public affairs head Leo Emmanuel K. Gonzales declined to comment until the matter has been studied by its legal team.

In April, Representative Jericho Jonas B. Nograles questioned Grab’s P2 per minute waiting time charge, which led to its suspension by the LTFRB in the same month. LTFRB argued it was not informed of Grab’s fare matrix.

In May, Grab filed a petition to reimpose the charge, saying it has the “legal authority” to implement its own fare structure according to a department order (DO) in 2015.

But the DoTr issued a new DO in June putting the LTFRB in charge of setting the fares of TNCs. — Denise A. Valdez