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Gatchalian, Poe to gov’t regulators: Don’t let Grab grab profits!

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By Xave Gregorio

Senators Win Gatchalian and Grace Poe are asking government regulatory agencies to keep an eye on ride hailing app Grab to ensure that it does not overcharge users after Uber went offline Monday (April 16) in the Philippines.

“There should be no room for predatory pricing by a firm allowed to engage in public service. Being the surviving entity does not authorize Grab to grab more profits,” said Poe in a text message.

Poe, who chairs the Senate public services committee, said government regulators should strike a balance in protecting riders and ensuring Grab drivers still earn.

“Hanapin natin ang Goldilocks moment, ang tamang timpla, na hindi ikaiinit ng ulo ng pasahero, at hindi ikalalamig ng driver. ‘Yung tamang presyo at serbisyo na masaya ang lahat,” she said.

Uber sent users emails notifying them that their app would cease to work in the Philippines beginning Monday, following Grab’s acquisition of the ride sharing giant’s operations in Southeast Asia in preparation for its initial public offering in the US stock market.

This leaves Grab virtually monopolizing transport network vehicle service (TNVS) operations in the Philippines, as other similar services dwarf its mammoth operations and four more are still pending accreditation with the Land Transportation Franchising Regulatory Board (LTFRB).

With Uber over, several users have complained over Grab’s alleged shortcomings, including charging significantly higher for trips compared to its former competitor, and drivers cancelling or making riders wait.

Puwersa ng Bayaning Atleta party-list Rep. Jericho Nograles also revealed this week that Grab is supposedly charging P2 per minute of travel, on top of the computed fare, without LTFRB approval.

“This can be viewed as anti-competitive behavior at dapat bantayan talaga ng gobyerno kung ano ang mga practices na ginagawa abroad,” Gatchalian said in a chance interview with Senate reporters.

He said the LTFRB and the Philippine Competition Commission should be guided by a “benchmark” based on Grab’s performance abroad.

“Hindi dapat iba ang services na binibigay dito sa Pilipinas. For example, ang Grab naman ay present sa iba’t-ibang bansa so kung ano ang ino-offer nila roon, ganoon din dapat dito sa atin at dapat hindi kulang,” Gatchalian said.

For example, he said, charges in the Philippines should not be different from charges in other countries where Grab operates.

“Dapat i-monitor ng mabuti. I-monitor ang abuses, i-monitor na hindi nila aabusuhin ang ating mga consumers,” he said.

Aside from monitoring, Gatchalian also urged the LTFRB to process the applications of upcoming TNVS players faster.

“Mas maraming competition, mas maganda para sa mga consumers. Mas mababa ang presyo at makakapili tayo,” he said.