Puwersa ng Bayaning Atleta Party-list Rep. Jericho Nograles on Friday assailed Grab Philippines anew for its refusal to take full responsibility on an accident involving one of its “sleepy and overworked” drivers that left a 20-year-old University of Santo Tomas mechanical engineering student in critical condition.
According to the relatives of the victim identified as Marko de Guzman, Grab only offered a small amount as financial assistance but refused to cover his entire medical expenses, claiming that the driver is not the company’s direct employee.
“Grab as a common carrier has a legal duty of extraordinary responsibility over the passengers. They are presumed to be at fault for the negligence that led to serious personal injury on the UST student,” Nograles, a deputy majority leader, said.
Nograles said that while Grab is raking in billions in profit from its overworked drivers and unwary passengers, it has managed to free itself from any legal responsibility in the event of any accident or a crime because of lack of enforcement of laws.
“This is the result of greed. Grab makes millions in a day and would rather fatten their bank accounts than look after the welfare of Filipinos. How can our regulators allow irresponsible operators violate civil and transpartation laws?” said Nograles who had consistently fought Grab’s unfair and abusive business practices.
Nograles also questioned Grab’s operation because of its 100 percent foreign ownership in violation of the constitutional requirement that transport companies must be 60 percent Filipino-owned.
“You cannot expect malasakit
from foreigners like Grab,” Nograles said.
He cited the case of De Guzman who is now fighting for his life when the Grab car he was riding crashed into a scaffolding of an ongoing roadwork along Taft Avenue late last month.
A portion of the metal scaffolding penetrated through the Grab car and punctured De Guzman’s head. The victim is now in critical condition as a fist-sized portion of his brain had to be removed as a result of the accident.
In a post that went viral in Facebook, De Guzman’s cousin Steffi de Guzman said Marko suffered a fractured skull and had to undergo a “very complicated brain surgery.”
De Guzman is also unable to talk and function normally.
“Kahit sarili niyang nanay, hindi na niya makikilala.
Imagine ‘nyo yun, lumabas lang naman si
Marko nung gabing ‘yun at sumakay ng
Grab, biglang hindi na siya makakagalaw, ‘di na makakasalita, ‘di na makakaintindi ng sinasabi ng mga mahal niya sa buhay?
” his cousin said.
(He can’t recognize his own mother. Imagine, Marko just went out and booked a ride on Grab, then suddenly he can no longer move, speak, and can’t understand his loved ones.)
The family said Grab has offered to pay only for a fraction of the P2.5 million worth of medical expenses.
The De Guzman family said Grab made several offers but not enough to cover his hospital bill. They also claimed that Grab’s policy only gives out a maximum of P200,000 for accidents.
“Marko lost his future, his chance to get a job and earn for himself and his family. He lost his capacity to learn, to understand, to recognize his loved ones,” Steffi said.
The family is now raising funds for Marko’s medical expenses.
But in a statement, Grab Philippines said it is “saddened by this terribly unfortunate incident.”
“We continue to pray for his immediate and successful recovery,” the company said.
Grab Philippines Spokesperson Leo Gonzales said they have been in constant communication with the family and offered financial assistance.
“While the family has not accepted any of our offers, we are continuously reaching out to extend adequate support that would cover Marko’s hospital expenses. We are also assisting them in claiming their insurance, which is offered to all Grab passengers and driver-partners,” Gonzales said.
Nograles, meanwhile, said that according to reports, the driver, who was later identified as Allan Sarmiento, crashed into the scaffolding because he was too sleepy to drive.
Sarmiento, has been permanently banned from the Grab platform. He and another driver await arraignment.
“This is not an isolated incident. There are many others. There will be more. The main reason is, drivers working themselves to death to reach their quota thereby endangering their own lives, lives of passengers, and lives of the general public.”
Nograles also questioned Grab’s refusal to cover the full medical expense of De Guzman because in its website, it claimed that Grab is providing a Group Personal Accident insurance for all Grab car rides.
It claims that all eligible drivers who are registered with GrabCar and Passenger(s) on board with a valid GrabCar booking are covered with personal accident insurance to compensate the Insured Person(s) for bodily injuries arising from a GrabCar accident.
“Grab, however, cannot pass liability to insurance companies. Our civil laws provide that Grab is directly responsible for all negligence unless they have exercised extraordinary diligence. Grab is not exercising diligence by pushing exhausted drivers to drive beyond humane conditions. Unless our regulators address these legal and safety issues, everyone is in danger,” Nograles added.