For A Change: On The Issue of Legalization of Irregularly-Issued Franchises for Public Utility Vehicles

In the 23 November 2009 Regular Session of the Baguio City Council, Councilor Richard A. Cariño delivered a privilege speech entitled “The Irregular and the Illegal Franchises: What Do We Do With Them?” He was referring of course to the thousands of illegal franchises or Certificates of Public Convenience (CPCs) of public utility vehicles, mostly taxis, issued spuriously and/or fraudulently by unscrupulous LTFRB directors in this region, in violation of law and existing moratorium in Baguio City and BLIST.

Soon thereafter, upon the behests of PUV operators who were fearful that their CPCs will be revoked or cancelled by the newly appointed DOTC-CAR Regional Director, Atty. Federico Mandapat who, in the first place, was opposed to the grant of franchises during moratorium when he was still a Councilor of the city, Atty. Cariño filed in the City Council Proposed Resolution Nr. PR 0042-10 entitled: “Recommending to the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) the Legalization of Irregular and Illegal Franchises of Public Utility Vehicles in Baguio City and Cordillera Administrative Region (CAR), subject to conditions.”

Briefly put, this proposed resolution sponsored by Councilor Cariño did not pass the City Council, it did not even undergo a deliberation that it was entitled to. In the many times it was taken up in several months of sessions, the deliberation by the Council en banc were always rejected by members of the Council, the most vocal of whom were Councilors ERDOLFO BALAJADIA, TABANDA, BAGBAGEN and EDISON BILOG who all advanced the uniform argument that “Irregularly issued franchises cannot possibly be legalized” without even telling us their reasons why.

The rest of the Councilors were seemingly mum about it all either because they did not have a good grasp or understanding of the true issues involved, or they were simply waiting for some kind of signal (whatever it was) from the Chairman of sponsoring Committee, then Councilor now Congressman Aliping.

Thus, the proposed measure was invariably returned to the Committee of Public Utilities, Transportation and Traffic Legislation that sponsored it every session that it was calendared, allegedly for further study(to my knowledge, the councilors never studied it.)

Pardon me, but until now, I am still reeling from the sad fact that Councilors Balajadia, Tabanda, Bagbagen and Bilog in consistently adopting the stand that irregularly-issued franchises cannot possibly be legalized, were not being honest to themselves, as well as, to their constituent operators who merely wanted to be helped legitimize their illegal CPCs which they thought they secured legally in good faith from the LTFRB. For, the truth is they actually knew and were reminded in fact by the proponents of legalization that there were established precedents on legalization of irregular franchises in the records of the City Council.

In 1999 for instance, under Resolution Numbered 323, S. of 1999, the City Council requested the LTFRB to legalize the operation of taxi units with Certificates of Public Convenience which were unscrupulously issued by then LTFRB Regional Director Daniel Tapia which request was approved by the LTFRB en banc in its Memorandum Circular No. 2000-019. In that Resolution, no less than Councilors Tabanda, Ortega, Mandapat and Datuin who incidentally are running for elective positions this coming May were among those who voted for the passage of the Resolution which was approved then by Mayor Domogan.

Also in 2005, under Resolution Numbered. 217, S. of 2005, the City Council approved the request of Pines Garage Association, Inc., Baguio Binalonan San Roque Carmen Transport Association, Rosario Express Vans Operators Association, Cabanatuan Express Vans Operators Association, Baguio Urdaneta Carmen Cabanatuan Transport Association, Inc., and Millenium Transport for the legalization of their franchises to operate in the City of Baguio, subject to conditions, did not only recommend the legalization to the LTFRB but the Council itself legalized the operation of vans in the city which were operating illegally of which it has no power to do because the authority to legalized thereof belongs to the LTFRB. Councilors YANGOT, OLOWAN, DATUIN, MANDAPAT, BALAJADIA and MOLINTAS who are also running for various positions this coming election were among those who supported the Resolution which was also approved by then Mayor Domogan.

Now tell me Sirs and Madam whether or not, based on these precedents on record in the City Council, irregularly-issued franchises cannot truly be legalized as you all argued before and perhaps still maintain up to now?
(to be continued on the next issue)


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