Grab PH execs quizzed over questionable implementation of senior discounts

RG Cruz, ABS-CBN News

Posted at May 30 2019 11:14 PM

Party-list Rep. Francisco Datol said he has a lot of complaints about Grab’s failure to grant the mandatory discount for senior citizens, an allegation Grab initially denied. File/Mark Demayo, ABS-CBN News

MANILA—Grab Philippines on Thursday said the company is not always able to grant senior commuters the 20-percent fare discount that is mandated by law.

The admission came as the House committee on Metro Manila development gave Grab officials and the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) an earful during a hearing on various issues.

Senior Citizens Party List Rep. Francisco Datol said he has a lot of complaints about Grab’s failure to grant the mandatory discount, an allegation Grab initially denied.

“We just want to make sure there’s no gaming of the system but as soon as they apply and they can apply through the website napo-process po naman agad po," said Leo Gonzales, Grab Philippines head of public affairs.

Datol told Grab to address the complaints or risk its license being revoked.

"Sa susunod na Kongreso ang Senior Citizen dito sa Kongreso kasama si Bayani Fernando, 121 mayroon kaming bilang para tanggalin ang prangkisa niyo," he said.

Upon further questioning by another lawmaker, Negros Oriental 3rd District Rep. Arnolfo Teves, Grab acknowledged that seniors won’t get a discount if a non-senior books the transaction for them on either their ride-sharing or food-delivery services.

"So that's a violation. LTFRB, you heard it on record. Automatic dapat discount ng senior citizen. Please take note of that. Please charge them of their violation," Teves said.

Former MMDA chairman and now Marikina Rep. Bayani Fernando said he fears that asking for the age of passengers may leave seniors prone to age discrimination.

"That’s a way for you to skip, better your advantage to get a passenger who is not a senior citizen because by that you skip the 20-percent discount," he said.

Lawmakers then pounced on Grab’s deployment of “colorum”, or vehicles without the proper license to transport passengers. Fernando then proposed to burn colorum vehicles.

Gonzales said the company has between 8,000 to 9,000 vehicles without proper licenses, but explained the "colorum" vehicles have been deactivated.

“We deactivated since January this year. We’ve been deactivating 500 a week the reason we cannot deactivate altogether is it will make the entire market collapse," he said.

Earlier in the hearing, which covered a variety of Metro Manila issues, Fernando voiced his displeasure over MMDA general manager Jojo Garcia absence in the hearing.

“Seryosohin n’yo kami (Take us seriously) . . . This is the most important committee in Congress for the MMDA. Ito ang pinakamahalaga (this is the most important) for Metro Manila concerns. No less than the general manager of the MMDA should be here . . . So we need to see the most important, most powerful people who can effect change, who can do things,” Fernando said.

"The only excuse for not attending the call of Congress is if he is called by the President of the Philippines. This (House hearing) takes precedence over media call. Because they're always on media, but they don't seem to have time for us here in Congress. So please convey that message. Masyado na eh (It's too much).”

Garcia arrived before the hearing ended.

“Jojo Garcia, taga Marikina ka pa man din. Ito, next time we call on the MMDA please be here," Fernando said.

"Tatlong taon ko sa Kongreso walang sumeryoso sa amin kahit kailan. 'Yan ang totoo sa aking analysis, 3 taon wala ako nakita sumeryoso sa Kongreso. On my 4th year, having learned the ropes in Congress, we'll be more vocal."

Meanwhile, Mar Valbuena of the Samahan ng Manibela, Mananakay at Nagkakaisang Terminal asked the government to reconsider the imposition of a point-to-point scheme for them and allow them to have some drop-off places in their routes.

“Halimbawa, senior citizen galing Fairview papunta ng PGH bababa pa po ba ng Buendia babalik sasakay ulit? Time- consuming, dagdag pamasahe," he said.

The LTFRB had explained that was the previous regime which was violated.

Committee chairman Winston Castelo suggested that the LTFRB give a 10-day reprieve for the implementation of this scheme.