by Jane B. Cadalig
The city council has summoned executives of mobile application-based transport service providers and heads of transportation offices to thresh out issues brought out by a complaint against a mobile application-based mode of transportation in Baguio and the Cordillera.
Invited by the city council to attend its April 24 session are chief executive officers or managers of transport network vehicle services (TNVS) like U-Hop and the heads of the Department of Transportation-Cordillera and Land Franchising and Regulatory Board central office.
The council also requested the CEOs of similar app-based transport network companies, Uber and Grab, to attend its session to better apprise members on how the TNVS operate.
The move came following the complaint of van operator Rodolfo Canam against the regional LTFRB and Department of Transportation (DOTr), which he said continues to allow the operations of U-Hop transport services when these units should not be allowed to ply the roads.
Canam is one of the operators of vehicles-for-hire who are adversely affected by the operation of U-Hop. He earlier sought the help of the city council, which then invited the DOTr to attend the legislative session to shed light on the issues Canam raised.
LTFRB Acting Chief Transportation Development Officer Robert Pocais and two legal officers of the DOTr appeared during the council’s April 3 session.
More than the competition between TNVS units like U-Hop and legitimate vehicles-for-hire, Canam said U-Hop’s continued operation is not valid because the processing of their applications for franchises was suspended in September 2016.
LTFRB Acting Chief Transportation Development Officer Robert Pocais told the city council that his office continued accepting applications for TNVS by virtue of a Jan. 26 resolution from DOTr Regional Director Jose Eduardo Natividad allowing the processing of applications that were filed before the September 2016 moratorium.
Asked who authorized Natividad to order the acceptance of new TNVS despite the moratorium, Pocais said: “I presume it is with the knowledge of the Board (LTFRB central office), because when Board Member Aileen Lizada came to Baguio, she said there was a mistake in the non-acceptance of U-Hop operators’ application prior to the September 2016 moratorium. It was through the U-Hop operators’ complaint that the board allowed our regional director to issue an order to accept the applications intended to be filed before the moratorium.”
The DOTr has given U-Hop units a 45-day provisional authority to operate. The provisional authority was issued in February. Pocais said there are 97 U-Hop operators issued with provisional authority.
Canam shared the view that the provisional authorities given to the U-Hop operators has already expired if these were issued in February.
Pocais said DOTr Regional Director Jose Eduardo Natividad is clarifying with their central office how the regional office should deal with the matter, although he said that based on LTFRB guidelines, the 45 days provisional authority granted to U-Hop operators is not extendable.
Canam also hit the Land Transportation Office for apprehending legitimate vans-for-hire, but sparing the U-Hop units despite the questions on the legality of the latter’s operations.
“I am wondering why we, the legitimate franchise holders, are apprehended, but not the U-Hop units. We are traversing the same routes pero kami ang hinuhuli ng LTO, hindi ang mga U-Hop units. Huwag naman sana nilang pag-awayin kaming mga franchise holders at mga U-Hop operators,” Canam said.
Pocais said Natividad never instructed LTO personnel to not apprehend U-Hop units.
Canam was advised to furnish the city council committee on transportation copies of his position paper against the operation of U-Hop so the committee can study the same and help in coming up with an action.