The Uber ride-hailing app is still available in the Philippines even after April 8 in compliance with the Philippine Competition Commission (PCC)’s order for both Grab and Uber to maintain independent operation in the country while it conducts a review of the merger agreement.
However, the cost of maintaining the continued operation of Uber’s app in the country is being shouldered by Grab Philippines, its country head, Brian Cu, said in a statement on Monday, April 9. It’s the first time that Grab has issued a public reaction to the PCC order, issued Saturday, April 7, telling Uber to maintain the availability of its app in the Philippines.
Cu also said that the Uber app has limitations that he did not specify.
“Grab wishes to clarify that, although the Uber app continues to operate, it has limited functionality and little or no support,” he said. “Grab noted that the LTFRB (Land Transportation Regulatory and Franchising Board) has expressed concerns pertaining to customer support and safety issues arising from Uber’s limited operations.”
In a text message to Entrepreneur Philippines, Grab Philippines' Public Relations Manager Krhizzy Pasigan said Uber's limited functionality means that the app will still be live but won't have customer support.
"So in case you left something or an accident happens, there's no customer support staff who can assist you anymore," she said. "Uber has no more people and the only thing left is an active app. Calls to question the safety of passengers and drivers (won't be answered)."
Cu added that Uber’s app will continue to be operational in the country until a week after April 8, the original target date for its deactivation.
“In the spirit of cooperating with the PCC, Grab has also agreed to continue to bear the costs of the Uber app extension (from March 25 to April 8) until April 15, 2018,” Cu said. “Our understanding from the PCC is that this interim arrangement, which was fully explained to the PCC, is not a breach of its Order.”
When the PCC met with both parties in a public hearing on Thursday, April 5, both parties reiterated that the anti-trust body’s interim measures are unnecessary. Uber’s legal counsel also said the company no longer has enough funding and personnel to keep its app operational in the country.
However, the PCC insisted on keeping Uber’s app operational in the country, in the wake of a similar order from Singapore’s competition authority that Grab and Uber agreed to comply with.
“The PCC believes that Uber is capable of operating its ride-hailing app in the country, despite its claims that it has already exited the Southeast Asia market,” PCC Chairman Arsenio M. Balisacan said in a statement on Saturday, April 7. “Uber’s compliance with our antitrust counterpart in Singapore to extend the operation of its app indicates the feasibility of continuing its operations in the Philippines as well.”
Uber’s office in Singapore also agreed to the Competition and Consumer Commission of Singapore (CCCS) to keep its app online in the country until April 15.
But Grab said its decision to extend Uber’s operations is only to satisfy PCC’s wishes for now as it seeks to have a dialogue with the commission once more.
“We hope that the PCC will sit with the parties to hear their sides and give a fair assessment of the concerns expressed by both parties and that any other action taken would take into account the practical hurdles that may lie across the parties’ paths,” Cu’s statement read.
While Grab said it will keep Uber’s app online in the country until April 15, the PCC’s motu proprio (on its own initiative) review can last for 75 days for the first phase while the second review may go on for 120 days.
Elyssa Christine Lopez is Entrepreneur.com.ph's staff writer.