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The Philippines is an interesting market for tech investors—a great command of English, lower costs of doing business, and close ties with the United States make the Philippines one of the most promising markets for tech and business. Call centers have been moving from their traditional hub in India to the Southeast Asian island nation, and economic growth has exploded—car manufacturers have reported a 27 percent growth in sales. Demographics also tie into their favor—the Philippines has an average age of 23, making it one of the youngest nations in Southeast Asia and the world.

Uber’s entry into the Philippines, however, has had a rough start. Like any other country, there are political issues, and the Philippines is no stranger to those issues. Political dynasties and corruption are highlights of the Philippine political landscape, as well as the difficulty of doing business due to inefficient bureaucracy and red tape. In the Philippine transportation industry specifically, horror stories about taxi and bus drivers are not uncommon. Several high-profile accidents involving public transportation in recent years, such as a 2013 bus accident that killed 21 people, forced authorities to step in and improve standards.

While these conditions are improving, Uber has had to deal with bureaucracy such as the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) since trying to move into the country in 2014. Local taxi drivers have protested against Uber’s entry into the Philippine market last year, which caused a crackdown by the government against the company. Locals and even the Metro Manila Development Authority (MMDA), the government agency responsible for the effective delivery of metro-wide services in Metropolitan Manila (Manila itself and 16 surrounding cities), issued a press statement condemning the LTFRB’s crackdown against Uber.

“The muscle of the law and the procedural and technical arms of government agencies alone cannot resolve the lack of alternate means of transportation problem. They can only increase apprehension records,” said MMDA chairman Francis Tolentino. Tolentino realized that Uber could do a lot of good for Metro Manila’s transportation issues. “Uber or hybrid carpooling is a well-meaning technology-driven effort intended for public safety and convenience that’s why people are patronizing it. We cannot curtail their mobility rights. This is similar to private bridal cars and private ambulances for rent which is a private transaction between the rider and the owner of the vehicle,” he added.

The Department of Transportation and Communication (DOTC) legalized Uber and other similar ride sharing companies back in May with very specific regulations: all cars have to be GPS-equipped sedans, SUVs, vans, and utility vehicles less than seven years old, and all drivers need to register with the LTFRB. However, Uber hasn’t applied for a license until recently. “In recent weeks, there has been heated debate in the news and social media about the deadlines imposed by the authorities. Over the past few months, Uber has been preparing our submission for Transport Network Company (TNC) accreditation with the expert guidance of the DOTC and LTFRB,” said Laurence Cua, Uber Manila’s general manager. “We look forward to the continued support and leadership of the government of the Philippines in achieving this.”

The LTFRB approved Uber’s application on August 19. “LTFRB approved Uber’s Application for Accreditation as TNC. Uber partners may now file their Application for Franchise for TNVS (transportation network vehicle service),” said LTFRB Chairman Winston Ginez via Twitter. One notable exception, however, is picking up passengers at Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA), Like any other market, competition forces all players to adapt, adjust and innovate in order to bring products and services to the community in the most cost-efficient way. Uber could make local operators step up the quality of service they have to stay in business.

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