Uber back after paying P190-M fine, P298-M aid to peer operators to lift suspension

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Breakdown provided by LTFRB on the fines paid by Uber Philippines on Tuesday (Aug. 29, 2017).

MANILA – (UPDATED 6:48 P.M.) Uber resumed its Philippine operations on Tuesday afternoon (Aug. 29) after paying regulators nearly half a billion pesos in fines to lift a crippling one-month suspension it was earlier slapped with for non-compliance with government rules.

In a statement issued just before 5pm, the transport vehicles network service firm said: “We have complied with the requirements outlined by the LTFRB, and are grateful for the opportunity to serve the Philippines again. Our operations will resume at 5:00pm.”

In an announcement on its verified Twitter account, Uber confirmed it has resumed its Philippine operations. It resumed its services in Metro Manila and Cebu at 5:00 p.m. on Tuesday. Uber said it expected to be fully operational in the coming days.

“We are grateful for all the support of riders and drivers over the past few weeks,” it said.

Uber settled a whopping P190-million fine imposed on it by the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board for non-compliance with regulations. This was on top of P298 million in financial assistance to peer-operators at the rate of 19 million daily. The total: P489,244,000.

Reacting to the development, Sen. Grace Poe, whose public services committee had been actively conducting hearings and helping the regulators and stakeholders draw clearer policy in the uncharted territory of ride-hailing apps in the Philippines, welcomed Uber’s payment of the fine.

Poe, however, qualified her celebratory tone with an appeal to LTFRB to better address its regulatory role, and not be a “whimsical regulator just for the sake of imposing regulations.” Poe had criticized LTFRB’s suspension order last August 14, saying it caused so much collateral damage for the riding public that had found relief in transport network vehicles services (TNVS), and the peer-operators who as innocent third parties found their livelihoods disrupted.

“I am happy that the riding public would somehow be able to regain its power in deciding what mode of public transportation to take after Uber paid the hefty and mind-boggling fine that the LTFRB imposed against the company,” Poe said in a statement Tuesday, hours after Uber paid LTFRB.

“For the sake of the commuters, I am committed to complete as soon as possible the report on the TNVS bill that is currently undergoing TWG meetings. The TWG meetings aim to thresh out and address all related issues concerning the operation of Uber, Grab and the like.

“This way, we may avoid the recurrence of a similar suspension affecting the TNVS community, which is rooted on the apparent inability of the LTFRB to adjust and adapt to new technology,” Poe added.

Based on what happened, she rued, “it seems that it [LTFRB] flexes its discretion as a whimsical regulator just for the sake of imposing regulations.”