THE Transportation department on Thursday told a Senate committee that the technical working group (TWG) overseeing the operations of motorcycle taxis has ordered the suspension of the implementation of the Grab Philippines-MOVE IT partnership.

Nag-issue po ang technical working group… na ihinto po muna ang pag-implement ng partnership nitong MOVE IT at Grab (The technical working group issued an order suspending the implementation of the partnership of MOVE IT and Grab),” Transportation Assistant Secretary Mark Steven C. Pastor said during a Senate committee budget hearing.

Ito po ay (This is) subject to further study pa ng (of the) technical working group,” he added.

Grab Philippines confirmed this in a statement, saying that its partner was notified to “suspend the MOVE IT with Grab service effective Thursday, Sept. 30, 12:01 a.m.”

“Together with MOVE IT, we are currently engaging with our regulators, and we look forward to resuming our partnership soon,” it added.

Grab Philippines has said that the partnership aims to help enhance mobility conditions in Metro Manila by providing MOVE IT motorcycle taxi services on the Grab app.

The partnership is also seen to enable both companies to provide the government’s technical working group with more safety statistics and insights on motorcycle taxi safety.

But transport group Lawyers for Commuters’ Safety and Protection said the partnership is “dubious.”

“The ride-hailing company’s dubious partnership with MOVE IT is clearly a circumvention of the program’s guidelines as the Singapore-based company is not part of the pilot study of the government,” Noel Valerio, spokesman of the Lawyers for Commuters’ Safety and Protection, said in a statement e-mailed to reporters on Sept. 25.

Grab Philippines said: “As a community partner, Grab Philippines will continue to do right by our consumers and partners, encourage constructive dialogue using facts and objective information, and help contribute to the recovery of our transportation industry.” — Arjay L. Balinbin