MANILA, Philippines-A party-list lawmaker has called for a congressional probe into the ride-sharing service Uber, whose operation in Metro Manila has been stopped following complaints from taxi operators.
Kabataan Rep. Terry Ridon filed a resolution urging the House Metro Manila Development committee to investigate the smartphone app-driven company for skirting laws requiring public utility vehicles to secure a franchise.
"While Uber offers a new level of convenience for the riding public using available technologies, this innovation should also operate within the ambit of the law," he said in an explanatory note.
"Public vehicle franchising is a mechanism of the State to ensure that operators of public utility vehicles abide by laws and regulations governing public mass transportation system and ultimately, to ensure the safety of the public availing of franchised services," Ridon said.
The US-based Uber uses a smartphone application to receive requests for rides, and then dispatches available drivers to pick up and drop off clients.
It has become a popular service worldwide, operating in 45 countries and 222 cities, but has faced legal complaints from regular taxi operators.
"Taxi operators and other parties in Australia, Canada, Germany, United Kingdom and United States filed similar complaints," Ridon noted.
Uber launched its operation in Manila and Pasig City in March but was stopped recently by the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board in response to a complaint filed by the Philippine National Taxi Operators Association.
The association calls the Uber fleet in Metro Manila "colorum" or illegal taxis, as the company allegedly violates the Public Service Law or Commonwealth Act 145, which requires public utility vehicles to secure a franchise from the regulatory board before it can operate.
"Uber is an application that connects the drivers to riders. It provides convenience to passengers by saving them the trouble of having to queue up, to call a dispatcher, or hail a cab on the street. They can request a ride with a push of a button and track the driver's location," Ridon said.
Passengers are required to pay a minimum base pay of P90 and additional P2.10 or P12.92 per kilometer. Passengers who cancel their bookings are obliged to pay P100.
"Passengers in Manila have the option to book a Mitsubishi Montero, a Ford Everest or a Toyota Fortuner, depending on vehicle availability at the time of booking," Ridon said.