An erroneous tweet from LTFRB Chairman's Twitter account (LTFRB_Chairman) is causing confusion about the status of Filipino transport service provider U-Hop's accreditation.
The tweet was posted on October 23, at a time when we were enjoying our family staycation at one of the finest hotels in Manila. It directly says " Breaking News: LTFRB denies U-HOP's application as Transportation Network Company (TNC)." Though it meant to say the denial was only for the category of Transportation Network Company, people will misinterpret it as a denial for the company's accreditation. Clearly it is causing a lot of confusion for those who could not clearly discern the real meaning.
There was a tweet posted by the LTFRB Chairman Twitter account indicating that new Filipino-owned transport service provider U-Hop's accreditation was denied. However, if you read carefully the attached document on the tweet, it was not a decision but only aims to propose creating a new transport service category where U-Hop can fit. There is really no decision yet saying U-Hop was denied accreditation.
The suspicious fact about this tweet is why would the LTFRB Chairman, Atty. Winston Ginez, announce this on Twitter. To think that he highlighted it as a "BREAKING NEWS" with an obvious intent to get as many attention as possible. It is an urgent notification that he clearly wanted people to know the negative news about U-Hop. He should have the decency to inform U-Hop first to give them an opportunity to appeal for a reconsideration.
Is there something fishy about all of this? Could there be more meaning about the delay in approving U-Hop's application?
Below is the STATEMENT FROM ATTY. ARIEL INTON, BOARD MEMBER, LTFRB, implying that there was probably a mistake in the tweet due to a misinterpretation of the attached memo.
"I don't know of any decision denying U-Hop's application to be accredited as TNC. What the board en banc did was to write a memo to (DOTC) Secretary Abaya saying that under the existing department order and memo circular, U-Hop cannot qualify as a TNC. And there is a need to come out with a new denomination as a shuttle app base transport service. A memo to the DOTC secretary is not a board decision. hence there is no decision yet on U-Hop application."
This issue makes us wonder if there is a group within LTFRB that doesn't want U-Hop to come in to the industry as another player. We have talked with the Vice President for Corporate Communications of U-Hop, Mike Manalaysay, and is seeking a message from DOTC too. Hopefully, Sec. Jun Abaya, or at least spokesperson Migs Sagcal, can give us an official statement about the controversial tweet, and also give a status about U-Hop's accreditation and why it has taken several months to approve it unlike foreign transport service companies Uber and Grab Car whom they quickly allowed to legally operate even after irregularities committed prior to their application.
The difference of Uber and Grab Car from U-Hop is that the latter opted to legally wait for an accreditation before operating, unlike the formers which operated already without the blessing of the involved government agencies.
We got a statement from Mike that U-Hop even applied ahead of the two but why is it taking our government agencies too long to approve U-Hop and yet so fast for the other two? We should be supporting our very own Filipino companies, and not making it too difficult for them.
Since we all know that the service provided by U-Hop is new, it is therefore subject to scrutiny. However, it doesn't mean that we should be giving the new players in the industry a hard time. Instead, we should be welcoming the change that is inevitable whether we like it or not. We should be embracing the better solutions even though it may look threatening to existing players in the business.
We hop that U-Hop would soon get their accreditation. It is a Filipino brand after all, and we should be fully supporting our countrymen who continue to do business in our country. The service that U-Hop intends to provide will dramatically change the way we commute since it will be like a personalized shuttle service shared with fellow commuters but with more convenience and guaranteed seats. It is the future of mass transportation that should go hand-in-hand with the MRT, LRT and other mass transportation services.