Volume XVII NO. 38 (July 12-18, 2014)

With the little pension money he got from the company where he toiled for 36 years, Mang Rodrigo, with his wife Tonya hardly agreeing, opted to buy and operate a Taxi service so he could support his family after retirement in 1997.

For a while, Mang Rodrigo thought that buying a taxi was a good decision after all. With himself driving the taxi six days a week, he not only sustained the material needs of the family, he found easy time supporting his two daughters starting then in college. He even had extra pennies to treat his family on weekends which did not happen before. Until…after two years when the franchise of his taxi was expiring and he had to renew it.

To his great surprise and dismay, he found out from the LTFRB that what he actually bought in 1997 was not a taxi franchise but a franchise for garage service or what is called now as vehicle for hire.

He could not believe it! How did that happened? He bought the franchise through the Director himself! How come? Following is the story of Mang Rodrigo’s travails.
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Mang Rodrigo married late in life. Either he willed it that way or it just happened. Whatever the cause was, he could not have probably avoided it. The circumstances were just beyond his control. It was his fate.

For, very early in youth, Mang Rodrigo had already been working to the bone to help his parents raise a family of six. He was the eldest. It did not matter to him therefore that he was not sent to school like his two brothers and a sister. He was glad enough just seeing them finished high school and possibly, vocational courses at least. He felt no pangs nor qualms about his situation.

He had been working in the mines for 20 years when finally he married, and raised his own family. He was 46. Not having gone to school at all or even sent to any formal training by the company like his contemporaries, he did not move up in his position. He remained the ordinary wage earner that he was from the start until his second retirement at age 66 in May 1997.

In 1997, Mang Rodrigo’s two daughters just graduated from high school and both would enroll in college soon. Even as he retired, Mang Rodrigo was determined that his children should attain the education that eluded him. This despite his wife’s lack of esteem, her philosophy being that women would marry anyway and so their places should be at home to rear and care for children.

“Paano ngayon tayo, wala ka ng trabaho. Kaya pa ba nating paaralin and mga anak mo?” Tonya would pester him nightly since he retired.

“Kaya ko pang magmaneho,” Mang Rodrigo would gallantly assure his wife. “pwede pa akong makimaneho sa taxi, ngunit mas maganda sana kung sarili natin ang taxi. Mas malaki raw ang kita.” He tried to convince his wife who was not sold to the idea of withdrawing the pension money from the bank which is reserved for future contingencies.

“Pero, hindi ka nakakasiguro sa taxi. Baka bulok ang mabili mo di problema pa iyon. Saka, sabi ni bayaw mahal daw ang prankesa ng taxi.”
“Mababawi rin natin ‘yon. Isa pa, mekaniko rin naman ako, kaya nating pangalagaan and taxi. Saka wagon ang bibilhin nating taxi para pati kamag-anak natin ay pwedeng sumakay.” That did it!

“Sige na nga, basta bahala ka.” Tonya finally said.
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Mang Rodrigo was early at the office of LTFRB in San Fernando. He knew beforehand that issuance of new taxi franchise was closed because of the moratorium. He was also told that the Regional Director was the right person to approach. His kumpare advised him so, and so he followed him.

The Director was indeed approachable and exceedingly polite for his rank. When told of Mang Rodrigo’s intention, he summoned to his room somebody from the outside and in his presence and hearing, the Director said: Nolan, may available ka bang taxi franchise diyan? Kung mayroon, tulungan natin si Mang Rodrigo. Bagong retire siya at kailangan pa raw na kumayod.”

The man showed a copy of the franchise to the Director after which the Director nodded: “Ok yan.” They then went out to a Notary Public where they executed a Deed of Sale to consummate the agreement. Thereafter, Mang Rodrigo handed the consideration amounting to P75T which included the cost of franchise and the transfer of the same to his name.

He was jubilant when he mentioned the franchise he bought to his wife. Tonya could not help but be happy likewise, his husband would have his own taxi at last. She even went with Mang Rodrigo to select and to buy the wagon to be substituted as taxi in the franchise. In their joy at having a taxi, the couple momentarily forgot that they were withdrawing from the bank all the money saved by Mang Rodrigo out of his toiling in the mines for 36 years.
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What would he do now? He had to stop operations of his taxi because the franchise has expired and even if it could be renewed, it would no longer be a taxi but a garage service. This service does not earn as much as a taxi. How could he manage to support his children in college?

Earlier, he thought his travails were finally over. Now this. How did this happen to him? Why him again? He tried to grope for answer from above but, as usual, none ever came from above to explain his travails.

What consoled him momentarily, if he could call it that, was his discovery that he was not alone after all in his misery. There were many others who invested money in similar manner and their franchises were facing threat of revocation because they were either wrong franchises they bought like his or their franchises were being claimed by others having been fraudulently granted by the Director under cases of double or multiple sale. But unlike them who could afford to bail themselves out from their problems because they had the means, Mang Rodrigo was financially drained. He could not hire the lawyer who could reportedly intercede in his behalf for his problem because the lawyer’s asking fee was quite prohibitive. Where would he get the P50T being asked for?

After much thought, it dawned on him that he had a cousin who was a judge in La Union. In his uncultured mind, a judge is a judge, he exerts great social pressure and influence. Maybe, as judge, his cousin would be able to convince the new Director to reconsider his plight.

He looked up again for succor. It was a habit formed by the many travails experienced in the past. He hoped that mercy, if it did not come before, would finally fall like rain this time. Amen.

(A True Story Based on LTFRB Case No. 97-01-709)


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