Poe calls on LTFRB to lift deactivation of Hatchback TNVS drivers

Robie de Guzman   •   July 8, 2019   •   855

Senator Grace Poe (Photoville International)

MANILA, Philippines – Senator Grace Poe on Monday urged the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) to consider lifting its ban on transport network vehicle services (TNVS) units that have failed to comply with application requirements.

Poe made the call as ride-hailing app drivers went offline on Monday (July 8) to protest the agency’s ‘inconsistent’ policies and phase out of hatchback cars.

READ: Ride-hailing app drivers go offline Monday against phase out of ‘hatchbacks’

Poe, who chairs the Senate Committee on Public Services, said the LTFRB already promised in its Memorandum Circular 2018-005 in February that it will allow existing hatchbacks to continue operating for three more years to recoup their investment.

“Siguro ay dapat rin nating malaman kung bakit napagdesisyunan ng LTFRB na hindi sundin ang sarili nilang circular,” the senator said in a statement.

(Maybe it’s time we find out why the LTFRB decided not to follow its own circular.)

“Hindi pwedeng paiba-iba ang ipinatutupad na regulasyon. Hindi ito patas sa mga mananakay at sa mga namumuhunan,” she added.

(The regulations should not be inconsistent. This is not fair to the passengers and investors.)

Poe further said that while LTFRB’s mandate to regulate the industry and ensure the safety of the riding public should be respected, calls to make the process easier according to the Ease of Doing Business Act should also be recognized.

“Matagal na nating kinilala ang kakayanan ng industriyang ito na tugunan ang kakulangan ng maayos na transportasyon sa kalakhang Maynila. Bakit natin kailangang pahirapan ang lahat?”

(We have long recognized this industry’s capacity to fill the gap of mass transportation in Metro Manila. Why do we need to make everyone suffer?)

The TNVS community in Metro Manila earlier said the transport holiday on Monday is to protest the difficult policies of the LTFRB in securing provisional authority and certificate of public convenience.

Although the drivers’ move inconvenienced many ride-hailing app users, Poe said the transport holiday is an opportunity for a negotiation between the LTFRB and the TNVS groups.

The agency earlier announced the conduct of a dialogue on Tuesday (July 9) to discuss the groups’ grievances.

“While the parties are on the table, we hope that the LTFRB can consider lifting the deactivation on those who failed to comply with the requirements,” Poe said.

The senator, meanwhile, revealed that bills seeking to put in place a law governing TNVS operations will continue to be discussed in the Senate.

“These include the re-filing of our bill from last Congress which proposes that only Transport Network Companies (such as Grab) will be directly regulated by the LTFRB. TNVS will only be one of several bills in the overarching ‘inclusive transportation’ agenda,” she said.

Poe added that bills seeking for the establishment of alternative modes of transportation will also be pushed in the 18th Congress.

“Other bills which we will file include the establishment of bicycle lanes, elevated walkways, and other alternative modes of transportation,” she said.

Poe family commemorates FPJ’s 80th birthday

Aileen Cerrudo   •   August 20, 2019

Fernando Poe Jr.

The Poe family commemorated the 80th birthday of Fernando Poe Jr. on Tuesday (Aug 20) at the Manila North Cemetery.

They also distributed grocery packs and toys to some 200 indigent families.

Senator Grace Poe is still overwhelmed by the outpouring of support for their family.

“Kakaiba talaga ito kasi 15 taon na. Umulan o umaraw, halos hindi pa rin natitinag iyong mga nagmamahal kay FPJ (It is still overwhelming because it has been 15 years. Rain or shine, their love for FPJ is still there),” she said.

Lovi Poe, meanwhile, posted old photos of her father on her insta-story.

Poe eyes probe on plan to hike ATM fees

Robie de Guzman   •   August 16, 2019

Senator Grace Poe

MANILA, Philippines – Senator Grace Poe is eyeing to investigate the reported plan to increase the fees for automated teller machine (ATM) transactions.

Poe, who chairs the Senate Committee on Banks, Financial Institutions and Currencies, said the resolution she filed is seeking to probe proposals to raise ATM charges that would further burden Filipino workers.

In a statement issued on Thursday, the senator said hiking ATM fees is “disadvantageous to an estimated 4.1 million minimum-wage earners who would need to carry the burden of these fees as many of them receive their salaries through ATM cards and withdraw from these machines at least twice a month.”

“The practice of imposing hefty bank fees, including ATM charges is financially disadvantageous to our country’s more than 58 million ATM cardholders,” she added.

Reports said several banks have applied for higher ATM fees, between 36% to 50%, after the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) lifted the moratorium on ATM fee increases.

Currently, bank charges range from P10 to P15 for interbank withdrawals and P2 for interbank balance inquiry.

Poe said she wants to know how much banks collect from these charges and why the customers are being made to shoulder the cost of what should be part of the banks’ services.

The senator would also ask the BSP about its next course of action after the moratorium on ATM fees lapsed.

READ: BSP says banks can’t hike ATM fees without approval

The BSP earlier assured that banks’ charges on ATM transactions won’t be increased without its approval, adding that each request for adjustment will be thoroughly examined.

Should the request for fee hike is found reasonable, clear and properly supported, the BSP said fees should be lower than the charges collected from transactions made over-the-counter (OTC), and comply with transparency in pricing.

QC Court stops implementation of Edsa provincial bus ban

Robie de Guzman   •   August 2, 2019

MANILA, Philippines – A local court has temporarily stopped the implementation of the highly-contested proposal to ban provincial buses from plying Epifanio delos Santos (Edsa).

In an order dated July 31 and released on August 2, the Quezon City Regional Trial Court Branch 223 has granted the writ of preliminary injunction filed by 18 transport groups against the scheme.

The QC court said it found “just cause” to stop the ban and schedule the case for hearings.

The court said it needs to hear the side of the defendants of the case – the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) and the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) considering that “the matter on hand greatly impacts the welfare of the public.”

The proposed policy of the MMDA and the LTFRB prohibits provincial buses from traversing Edsa to decongest traffic. It also seeks to revoke business permits and shut down the operation of all provincial bus terminals located along Edsa.

The LTFRB also amended last month the routes for provincial buses traveling along the major thoroughfare.

A dry run for the policy is supposed to begin on August 7.

The court notes in its order that these measures would have “far-reaching effects” to the businesses, employees and other contracts of provincial bus companies. It added that the shortened routes would also affect the salary of employees.

“While as a rule, the right to income or earning does not prevail over public welfare, in the instant case since the Court has as yet not been presented with a clear basis or sufficient justification for the issuances, there is no reason to consider these issuances to have priority over the Plaintiffs’ rights as well as those that would suffer from their implementation,” the order read.

The court also asked the MMDA and the LTFRB on why point-to-point (P2P) buses are given privilege of plying Edsa even if their sizes were similar to those of regular buses.

It further said that since the said agencies failed to file a response, “no explanation or study has been presented to this Court to aid the latter in determining whether the provincial buses are indeed the cause of ‘horrendous traffic’ and if their ban and closure of their terminals is the best solution.”

“In view of the absence of any evidence on behalf of the Public Defendants, the evidence provided so far by the Plaintiffs tend to show that indeed, there was abuse in the issuance of the subject LTFRB MC and MMDA Regulation,” the order read.

The court gave the Office of the Solicitor General (OSG), which represents the MMDA and the LTFRB, until August 14 to file a response to the case.

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