Philippines Suspends Uber for One Month

Commuters wait for their ride along a main road in Manila yesterday.- AFP

Commuters wait for their ride along a main road in Manila yesterday.- AFP

A year ago the LTFRB suspended the acceptance and processing of applications for all ride-sharing services, including Uber and Grab, to study further how to regulate the industry.

"Uber is online again, let us apprehend", she told reporters, narrating her order to traffic enforcers.

At a congressional hearing earlier this month, Uber told lawmakers there were almost 67,000 drivers registered with Uber in the Philippines.

Uber said on Tuesday that it would appeal the order, and briefly resumed services in defiance of the ban. This episode in the saga didn't last long either. But the company said it would comply with the order after its appeal was denied.

Uber has said that it did accept new applications for drivers amid strong demand, but did not process them.

A five-page suspension order of the regulator made available on Tuesday said the suspension was due to the "irresponsible" behaviour of Uber in "unduly challenging the limit of fair regulation" by continuing to accept driver applications. LTFRB chairman Martin Delgra told Reuters the regulator was not singling out Uber, and that he hoped the issue could be resolved at an August 23 meeting.

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Following a back-and-forth with regulators, Uber has temporarily shuttered its operations in the Philippines.

The company apologized on Wednesday for what it called a "misunderstanding", Reuters reported. The country was the first in Southeast Asia to regulate ride-sharing services, drafting rules in 2015. "We're trying to work together here to address public transport issues", he said.

Uber's regional general manager has since appeared on Philippines TV in an apology to the regulatory.

The government replied immediately, saying the suspension was still in force and threatening to arrest Uber drivers who violated it. "Otherwise it will be constrained to take legal actions against Arcade City and its illegal TNVS operators considered as colorum", the regulator said.

The suspension led to an outpouring of anger by Filipinos on social media.

Dane Anderson, a vice president at technology research and advisory firm Forrester, said the sidelining of Uber had gifted Grab an opportunity it should seize.

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