Rough Cuts | Something to thank Rep. Nograles for

The exposé by Rep. Jericho Nograles that the Transport Network Vehicle Sharing (TNVS) firm Grab is charging an additional P2 per minute markup on its fare has created some kind of a disturbed hornets’ nest in the network’s operation and the riding public as well.The same disclosure has also goaded the Land Transportation Franchising Regulatory Board (LTFRB) into action digging deeper the methodologies of the TNVS firm in charging fares to passengers. The LTFRB is also looking into complaints that the soon-to-be monopoly TNVS is imposing a two percent of approved rate as “surge” fare when demand for Grab-affiliated vehicle services rises during peak hours of the day.

Nograles of the PBA partylist and who hails from Davao City is the brother of First District Rep. and chair of the powerful House Appropriations Committee Karlo Alexei Nograles, made his exposé during an interview with “The Source” public affairs program of CNN Philippines. Jericho based his claim on his personal experience. He told “The Source” he took a Grab vehicle and upon disembarking he demanded a breakdown of the charges made by the driver.
It was there, according to the PBA lawmaker, that he learned for the first time that aside from the authorized fare Grab is also collecting P2 per minute of travel. He told program host Pinky Webb that he confronted the driver that that particular item is not one of those included in the breakdown of the fare components approved by the LTFRB in their application.
Therefore, the younger PBA Partylist congressman opined that Grab needs to refund the unauthorized collection to the persons who had booked for a Grab ride. In Nograles’ personal estimate based on the number of trips taken by passengers on Grab-affiliated vehicles the illegal collection could amount to P1.8 billion over the last five months or so.
That amount of money is indeed earth-shaking and would suffice to fund important huge infrastructure projects for the country.
And yes, we agree that with such gargantuan amount there could be more significant infrastructure projects that perhaps all Grab vehicle patrons will be able to make use in later years.
However, there might be need for the PBA guy in Congress to also pry deeper into the mechanics of approving the fare rate structure of Grab-affiliated vehicles by the transport industry regulator.
According to lawyer Leo Gonzales, head of Corporate Communications of Grab Philippines during an interview with the nationally televised radio program Saksi sa Double B last Thursday morning, the P2 per minute additional travel fare is a component of the rate structure they submitted to the LTFRB for consideration. The GRAB communications officer claimed the fare rate structure as applied, was approved on the whole.
And as if the Grab executive was taunting the PBA lawmaker he told GMA’s national audience that Grab does not have such refundable amount as the additional P2 per minute fare collected does not go to the TNVS firm but to the drivers. So, how can they be made to refund the money that is not with the company?
Well, we agree that the Grab communications executive has a point on that particular argument. That is, if indeed nothing from the additional per hour add-on fare really accrues to the network.
And PBA’s Nograles will only have the chance to know the veracity of the GRAB man’s claim if he can convince Congress to have the issue investigated by the appropriate House Committee.
After all, it will not only be Grab who will be questioned on its claim but the transport regular LTFRB as well.
Should the LTFRB confirm during a House committee probe that it has approved the transport firm’s rate structure package without knowing its item by item components then the transport regulator can be liable of negligence in its responsibility.
But whatever comes out of the Nograles exposé, every Grab vehicle riding Filipino owes the partylist lawmaker from Davao City some kind of debt of gratitude. With the Nograles exposé the Grab attempt to monopolize the TNVS industry may not push through and possibly there will be stricter requirements before any application for fare rate hike by a TNVS company be given due consideration.

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