GRAB Philippines (MyTaxi.PH, Inc.) on Monday said it will extend the operations of Uber Philippines’ app to April 15, despite the former’s objections to the order of the Philippine Competition Commission (PCC) for the two ride-sharing companies to continue operating independently pending the antitrust body’s review.
In a statement, Grab Philippines said it will bear the costs of keeping the Uber app operational until April 15. Grab had already shouldered the costs of Uber operations from March 25 to April 8. The Uber app was initially scheduled to go offline on April 8.
“Considering that Uber has exited the region on 25 March and clearly stated during the public hearing its incapacity to fund the operations in the Philippines, the parties have agreed to keep the Uber app operational with Grab bearing the costs, to give drivers and consumers time to adjust to Uber’s departure,” the company said.
“In the spirit of cooperating with the PCC, Grab has also agreed to bear the costs of the Uber app extension (from March 25 to April 8) until April 15, 2018. Our understanding from the PCC is that this interim arrangement, which was fully explained to the PCC, is not a breach of this order,” it added.
Grab, however, said that even with the operation of Uber, it has “limited functionality and little or no support.”
Grab Philippines country head Brian Cu said they are only funding the activation of the system and not the manpower.
Mr. Cu said Grab cannot continue bearing the costs of keeping Uber app operational for a longer period of time. Grab has been funding operations of the Uber app only to allow for the transition of drivers to the new system.
“We cannot bear the costs. Even if we bear the burden, it’s as if we’re operating the app, which diminishes the point of what they want to [happen], it’s a circular argument,” he said in a press conference.
The Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) over the weekend questioned the PCC order, and expressed concerns over continued operation of the Uber app.
The PCC ordered Uber to continue operating the app for the entire duration of the motu proprio review, and for Grab and Uber to maintain independence of operations. PCC said the acquisition leads to a “virtual monopolization” of the ride-sharing market.
PCC Chairman Arsenio M. Balisacan had said that Uber is “capable of operating its ride-hailing app in the country, despite its claims that it had already exited the Southeast Asian market.”
Mr. Cu said they will meet with the PCC to discuss further particularly with the “contradiction” of the PCC order.
He noted the PCC should ask the LTFRB to fast track the application of four ride-sharing companies, which are seeking accreditation.
“If they want more competition, they need to discuss with the LTFRB to speed up the application of the new entrants. I don’t think they’ve done that yet, and they’re focusing on a half-baked solution,” Mr. Cu said. — Patrizia Paola C. Marcelo