(Courtesy of Grab PH Facebook)

MANILA – A public transportation advocate on Friday criticized the delay in the hearing on the alleged overcharging practice of transport network vehicle service (TNVS) company Grab Philippines.

In a Laging Handa briefing, lawyer Ariel Inton, president of the Lawyers for Commuters Safety and Protection, said rescheduling the hearing from Dec. 13 to Jan. 10 will result in more passengers experiencing the alleged overcharging. 

Aanhin mo pa iyong damo, kung wala na ang kabayo? Eh ang kailangan natin ay magkaroon ng desisyon, dahil ngayon po, ngayong Christmas season, dito maraming sumbong (What's the use of grass if the horse is gone? We need to make a decision because the Christmas season is when we’re getting a lot of complaints),” Inton said.

Grab filed a motion to cancel the hearing on Dec. 13 due to their representatives’ alleged exposure to Covid-19.

The Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) issued a show cause order to Grab on Dec. 6 over allegations of charging PHP85 for short trips, or trips below four kilometers, a violation of the minimum flag down rate.

The approved base fare for TNVS as of September are PHP45 for taxis and Sedan-type, PHP55 for Asian or sports utility vehicle types, and PHP35 for hatchback types.

There will be no increase in the succeeding kilometers.

Mataas iyon (PHP85). Hindi iyan nakapaloob doon sa fare matrix kaya shinow cause order sila (That’s too much. That’s not what’s enclosed in the fare matrix so they were issued a show cause order),” he said.

Inton said a Grab lawyer clarified that the PHP85 minimum charge was meant to discourage short trips while Grab country head for mobility EJ dela Vega insisted they comply with guidelines

Inton said such short trips occur in just one of 10,000 rides.

Hindi consistent iyong presentation nila na isa lang sa bawat sampung libong pasahero, idi-discourage mo. Sa tingin namin, hindi iyon, with all due respect sa mga abogado nila, hindi totoo (Their presentation was not consistent because they’re discouraging one out of 10,000 passengers. In our opinion, that’s, with all due respect to their lawyers, not true),” he said.

In addition, he alleged that Grab is taking advantage of “surge pricing” or multiplying by two the per-minute charge and the per-kilometer charges.

Iyan ay pinapayagan ng LTFRB pero ang tanong, kailan mo ba dapat i-implement o singilin ang pasahero ng fare surge (It is allowed by the LTFRB but the question is, when should you implement or charge passengers with fare surge)?” he said.

Due to the lack of parameters or policies, he said surge pricing is perpetually implemented.

“And that is the reason why sinulatan namin ang LTFRB dito na dapat may parameters (And that is the reason why we wrote to the LTFRB that there should be parameters),” he said. (PNA)