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Uber Fights to Stay in the Philippines

Uber took steps to avoid the coming ride-share crackdown in the Philippines after applying for and receiving accreditation (as of today) with the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB)—something that they have been under increased pressure to do, after protests from regular taxi operators in the country.

“The accreditation process itself is quite complex,” an Uber spokesperson told Mashable. “It is something that we worked on closely with the DOTC (Department of Transportation and Communications) and LTFRB through the entire process. So there was no delay in submitting the application.”

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One of Uber’s biggest Southeast Asia competitors, GrabCar, already received approval and accreditation as a transportation network company (TNC) over a month ago, making it the first authorized ride-share app in the Philippines.

Drivers for any and all ride-share companies will face increased scrutiny from regulators and could be fined and arrested if they operate without approval after August 21st.

This comes after earlier issues this year, which arose from new transportation categories put in place by the government.

Many companies dragged their feet in regard to compliance with these new requirements, continuing to provide ride-share services when they shouldn’t have, LTFRB chairman Winston Ginez has said.

Tech in Asia reports, “The Philippines’ move to legalize app-based ride services followed months-long public consultations to figure out how to regulate Uber’s operations. Uber was under fire from taxi operators who wanted the tech company banned. Initially yielding to pressure, Philippine regulators launched a sting operation against the company, but it backfired. The public was outraged, prompting regulators to take a second look at technology-based transport services.”

These authorities seem content for now, as The LTFRB Chairman announced on Twitter, “Today, LTFRB approved Uber’s Application for Accreditation as TNC. Uber partners may now file their Application for Franchise for TNVS (transportation network vehicle service).”

This is no doubt a big victory for Uber, a company that has faced ongoing challenges worldwide. Given the already horrendous traffic in Manila, the only city in the country where Uber operates, commuters should be happy with this news as well—there are many who would much rather make use of ride-share services than rely on buses or the dilapidated MRT line.