Uber spends P100 million to assist drivers

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This photo illustration shows a man posing with his mobile phone as the Uber app is displayed in Manila on August 17, 2017. Ride-sharing app Uber faces a month-long suspension in the Philippines, in its latest run-in with authorities around the world. Uber, the world's most valuable venture-backed startup, was forced to suspend its services this week after the nation's transportation agency accused it of defying an order against accepting new driver applications. / AFP PHOTO / Ted ALJIBE

UBER PHILIPPINES (Uber Systems, Inc.) said it has spent around P100 million for financial assistance to its over 36,000 drivers who have been affected by the month-long suspension of its operations by the government.

Uber, represented by country manager Laurence Cua and the company legal team, said yesterday during a hearing at the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) that they have been shelling out about P19.9 million per day to compensate the 36,367 drivers or driver-operators who have temporarily lost their livelihood.

Payments are disbursed through an automated system to operators, who then decide how much to give to their respective driver/s.

“We communicate [the sending of the payments] with drivers and operators,” Mr. Cua said.

The hearing was set after Uber filed a manifestation and motion to pay a P10-milllion fine instead of serving the suspension. The hearing was also intended to tackle the motion for intervention filed by lawyer Vigor Mendoza II of the group Kilusan sa Pagbabago ng Industriya ng Transportasyon (KAPIT).


Mr. Mendoza, who is questioning Uber’s P10-million offer, said he is not against the payment of a fine but that allowing the ride-hailing company to settle with money in lieu of a suspension will set a precedent for future cases.

“It’s a shift in policy direction, a standard… that suspension can be converted to a fine,” Mr. Mendoza said.

Mr. Mendoza also said that Uber should pay a much higher amount of P6 billion, taking into consideration the fines that Uber should be slapped with for operating around 50,000 “colorum” (informal term for illegal) vehicles and the alleged millions earned by the company per day.

LTFRB Board Member and Spokesperson Aileen A. Lizada, however, rebuffed this suggestion.

“That is too much… We do listen, we are reasonable,“ Ms. Lizada told reporters.

Meanwhile, LTFRB officials asked Uber to show documents of their payments to drivers and operators.

Uber’s manifestation has been set for resolution and Ms. Lizada told reporters they would decide on the matter “as soon as possible.”

Ms. Lizada also told reporters that the planned increase in the number of regular taxis will not be immediate.

LTFRB Chairman Martin A. Delgra III said in a briefing on Tuesday in Malacañang that they have consulted academics and experts about increasing the number of taxis “to put in more supply in order to address demand.”

Ms. Lizada said this will increase the “baseline” of the number of taxis without harming the “special lines” or transport network companies (TNCs).

Ms. Lizada also said that they are planning to talk with the owners of Micab, a taxi ride-hailing app to be launched in Metro Manila in September, to assess what consumers want to see from the taxi sector. — Patrizia Paola C. Marcelo