MANILA (Reuters) - Ride-hailing platforms Uber [UBER.UL] and Grab have agreed to stop their drivers from delivering unchecked packages on behalf of customers, in response to government concerns they could unwittingly become couriers of illegal drugs.
The decision followed an advisory from the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) about some illicit drugs in packages reportedly being delivered via the ride-hailing services.
President Rodrigo Duterte’s 15-month-old administration has been waging a brutal war on drugs, the centrepiece of his election campaign, with thousands of people killed during what police say are anti-narcotics operations.
Duterte insists narcotics are at the root of the country’s rampant crime problem and says as many as four million Filipinos are using drugs.
Uber and Grab representatives who met this week with officials of PDEA and the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) said they would order drivers not to take unchecked packages without passengers.
“Uber services here are for passengers only,” Yves Gonzales, in charge of government relations and public policy at Uber Philippines, said during the meeting, in comments aired on news channel ANC on Friday.
Leo Gonzales, Grab Philippines public affairs head, sought an assurance that Grab drivers would not be penalized by the regulator for refusing customers who wanted packages to be delivered.
Its delivery service, Grab Express, would require customers to open the packages and show the contents to drivers first, then complete identification forms, ANC reported.
The LTFRB said in a statement it would make drug testing mandatory for all drivers of public utility vehicles and ride-hailing services, and would ban those showing positive results.
Representatives of Uber and Grab did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
Reporting by Enrico dela Cruz; Editing by Martin Petty & Simon Cameron-Moore