An official of the Land Transportation Franchising Regulatory Board (LTFRB) on Tuesday clarified that hatchbacks were not disallowed from becoming transport network vehicle service (TNVS) units but only a limited number of them were accredited within a given period.
During a dialogue among the representatives of the LTFRB, Department of Transportation (DOTr), the Anti-Red Tape Authority (ARTA), and TNVS groups, LTFRB Technical Division Head Joel Bolano said all policies set by the Board for hatchbacks were based on existing department orders from the DOTr and LTFRB memorandum circulars (MC).
He said MC 2018-005, a memorandum that allows for hatchbacks as TNVS until February 2021, only applies to accredited hatchback units.
These accredited hatchbacks are part of 55,000 TNVS units in the master list made by Transport Network Companies (TNC) like Grab in cooperation with the LTFRB.
Of the 55,000 units in the master list, a total of 24,805 filed their respective applications and out of these applications, 2,235 were hatchback units.
Bolano said hatchbacks which applied for TNVS accreditation from March 5 – December 15, 2018 are also entitled to the benefits granted by the MC 2018-005.
“Hindi po totoo na hindi natin pino-process yun, at hindi po totoo na hindi ini-implement yung [MC 2018-005]. Katunayan po diyan ay yung nag-apply na 2,235 units na hatchback (It’s not true we’re not processing them. It’s not true we’re not implementing MC 2018-005. The proofs are those 2,235 hatchbacks who applied for accreditation),” Bolano said.
He said the accredited hatchbacks were actually in violation of the Department of Transportation and Communications (DOTC) orders 2015-11 and 2017-011 that only allow sedans, Asian Utility Vehicles (AUV), Sports Utility Vehicles (SUV), vans, or other similar vehicles for TNVS.
The mistake happened due to a misunderstanding where TNCs misinterpreted the vehicle types allowed and wrongly accredited hatchback units. This paved the way for the LTFRB to act as the sole accreditor of TNVS operators instead of TNCs.
MC 2018-005 was later released to help transition those already accredited until hatchbacks are phased out on 2021 from serving as TNVS.
“Ibig sabihin noon, kung walang problema yung 2,235 (hatchbacks) na nag-apply doon sa master list, dapat po tumatakbo siya hanggang 2021 (That means if there are no problems with the 2,235 which applied in the master list, they can operate until 2021),” Bolano said.
However, no new TNVS applications from hatchback operators are processed by the LTFRB following said orders from the DOTr, he added.
TNVS counsel Ariel Inton challenged LTFRB’s definition of TNVS vehicle types which are allowed in the department order.
“Meron bang nakalagay na bawal ang hatchback sa (Did it say that hatchbacks are not allowed in the) department order? In fact, if you construe what the department order says, all other similar vehicles, malawak ‘yun (that’s broad). A similar vehicle would be a four-wheel vehicle,” Inton said.
LTFRB chairman Martin Delgra III, on the other hand, said legal opinions will vary on the matter but the DOTr has made it clear on their department orders what vehicle types are allowed for TNVS.
“There is a listing. AUV, Sedan, SUV…The minimum is sedan and it goes all the way up to an SUV. And it says any similar vehicles,” Delgra said. (PNA)