Mass transport expert: LTFRB not tech-savvy to handle ride-sharing apps

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, April 17) - The government may need to step up its capacity to anticipate changes in technology, especially in the transport sector, to properly carry out its regulatory mandate over app-based ride-hailing systems, a transport expert said.

"We are in a new era, new technology for which the LTFRB (Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board) is not equipped to deal with that's why it's being accused doesn't understand application," said Rene Santiago, who has been a consultant for the Asian Development Bank and World Bank.

He said LTFRB cannot properly monitor the new transport technology.

"You're moving into a world for which LTFRB has not been trained, its law did not recognize that kind of animal before," he said.

LTFRB Board Member Aileen Lizada admitted they are adjusting to new technologies.

Lizada said she has proposed to the Transportation Department to amend the department order on transport network vehicle services (TNVS) such as Grab.

Zero competition

The Philippine Competition Commission (PCC) has given Grab and Uber until today to submit their respective explanations on why they failed to continue operating separately as required by the antitrust body.

Uber has sent out emails, notifying passengers its app is no longer since April 16. This leaves the market with Grab as the sole operating ride-hailing app and contradicts PCC's order to wait for it complete its review on Grab's acquisition of Uber in the Philippines.

Uber has yet to disclose its position while Grab says it will explain its side in a media briefing Wednesday.

For Santiago, it's much ado over nothing.

"The competition has really dwindled to almost nothing," said transport expert Rene Santiago. "There are others but they don't provide the same functionality as Grab and Uber.

But the PCC is standing pat on fulfilling its role.

In an interview with CNN Philippines' News Night Monday, PCC Commissioner Stella Quimbo said, "It's very clear (in) the Philippine Competition Act (that) we have the power to undo a merger which we find to be anti-competitive."