By Patrizia Paola C. Marcelo, Reporter

THE LAND Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) is currently processing the applications of three transport network companies (TNCs), which are expected challenge the dominance of Grab Philippines.

LTFRB Board Member Aileen Lourdes A. Lizada on Wednesday said there are three ride-sharing companies or TNCs that have applied for accreditation with the LTFRB. The three companies were identified as Lag Go, Owto, and Hype.

“So if you say that there is no competition, soon there will be, and any competition is good for any industry because it benefits the riding public,” Ms. Lizada said in a press conference.

If granted franchises, the vehicles of the accredited TNCs will be part of the common supply base of 65,000 transport network vehicle service (TNVS) in Metro Manila.

Indonesian ride-hailing and online payment company Go-Jek earlier said the company aimed to set up operations in the Philippines this year.

Uber announced on Monday it was selling its Southeast Asian businesses, ride-sharing and food delivery, to Singapore-based rival Grab.

Ride-hailing app users have expressed worry that Grab, as the surviving entity, will monopolize the market and raise fares.

Grab Philippines, however, assured the public that its merger with Uber Philippines will result in a drop in surge pricing, better waiting times and more car rides.

“With the increase of supply base under one app, you should see allocation times get better because the density of cars across the map gets better. So it’s easier to allocate. So if it’s easier to allocate, the surge would not be as frequent as before,” Grab Philippines country head Brian P. Cu said said in a press conference.

Grab has already started the processing of applications of unique Uber Philippines drivers who will be transferring to the Grab system.

Mr. Cu said they expect around 20,000-24,000 drivers from the Uber system, based from the master list of the LTFRB. The total merged number is estimated at 55,000-65,000 if all drivers from the Uber system transfers to Grab.

Grab Philippines public affairs manager Leo Emmanuel Gonzales said the company will be meeting with the Philippine Competition Commission (PCC) next week.

“Grab has already taken the initiative to reach out to the PCC. As a matter of fact, we will have a meeting with them very very soon, next week,” Mr. Gonzales said during the press conference.

The antitrust body requires mandatory notification of merger and acquisition deals, setting the threshold for the size of person at P5 billion and the size of transaction at P2 billion.

PCC Commissioner Johannes Benjamin R. Bernabe said the commission will see whether there is a basis to conduct a review of the Grab-Uber deal.

“You see two of the dominant players merging into one, and we will see whether there is a basis for us to conduct a review,” he said in a phone interview.

“[If PCC reviews transaction] Under the law, the parties can volunteer to have certain conditions for the transaction. Similar to the case of SM and Goldilocks, the two volunteered to address the anti-competitive terms. Alternatively, the PCC can impose conditions,” Mr. Bernabe added.

Earlier, PCC Chairman Arsenio M. Balisacan said even if the Grab-Uber transaction does not meet the thresholds, it can still review and possibly block the deal if they deem it to be anti-competitive.