Uber says appeals one-month Philippine suspension, resuming services

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MANILA (Reuters) – Uber [UBER.UL] said on Tuesday it had appealed to the Philippine authorities to reconsider a one-month suspension handed out to the ride-hailing firm a day earlier, and was resuming services as it waits for a decision.

The Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) decided late on Monday to halt the service over Uber’s defiance of an order to cease accepting new driver applications.

Uber is hugely popular in the Philippines, regarded by its users as more reliable and competitive than the country’s outdated public transport services.

The suspension led to an outpouring of anger by Filipinos on social media. Uber issued an email to users informing them of the suspension, entitled “we’ll be serving you again soon”.

In the appeal to the LTFRB, Uber said it had the right to due process and wanted a stay of implementation of the suspension.

“This means that Uber’s operations will continue until the motion is resolved,” Uber said in a Facebook posting.

“Over the course of this morning, tens of thousands of riders were left stranded, causing needless inconvenience, while drivers were unable to access the earning opportunities they rely on.

“We are looking forward to urgently resolving this matter.”

The LTFRB could not immediately be reached for comment on Uber announcing its services would restart right away.

The Philippines suspension is the latest setback this year to Uber, one of the most valuable startups in the world with a valuation upwards of $60 billion, which is struggling to recover from a series of scandals and is hiring a new leader.

The Philippines was the first Southeast Asian nation to regulate app-based car-hailing operations after drawing up rules in 2015.

Last year the LTFRB suspended the acceptance and processing of applications for all ride-sharing services, including Uber, to study further how to regulate the industry.

Uber said it continued to accept new applications for drivers amid strong demand for the service, but did not process them.

A five-page LTFRB suspension order made available on Tuesday said the suspension was due to the “irresponsible” behavior of Uber in “unduly challenging the limit of fair regulation” by continuing to accept driver applications.

Grace Poe, a senator and prominent advocate for improving the Philippines’ notoriously shoddy transport services, said the LTFRB’s order was “cruel and absurd”.

In a statement, she said stopping Uber “further exacerbates the problem of having an utter lack of safe, reliable and convenient transportation options for our people.”

Reporting by Martin Petty and Manolo Serapio Jr; Editing by Muralikumar Anantharaman