The Truth About LTFRB Case No. 97-01-1337; etc…
VOL. XVII NO. 24 March 29 – April 4, 2014
During the hearing of our petition for legalization of irregularly-issued CPCs on 4 March 2014, I was almost castigated by the Honorable Board for allegedly seeking relief as counsel for petitioners “without clean hands”. This was because in the Inventory or List of Irregularly Issued CPCs submitted to the Board by LTFRB-CAR, my name appears as a CPC co-grantee of one Regina Sibayan of twelve (12) units of UV / VFH, all under Case No. 97-01-1337.
I had to deny the allegations thereby taking exception to what the Honorable Chairman may have possibly believed that I acted and sought relief as counsel for the petitioners “without clean hands.” For, it was clear to me then, as it is now, that I have never applied for any CPC application nor even acted as counsel for new CPC applications since moratorium was declared, except for two (2) applicants who were able to secure exemptions to the moratorium. How could I possibly have filed that application when I have been a consistent oppositor to CPC applications being filed in contravention / violation of the moratorium since 1998, until now.
Never did I know until lately (as per call received from LTFRB Region 1) that there was an application “pre-docketed” as Case No. 97-01-1337 allegedly filed by one James Valeros to operate Vehicle-for-Hire with the use of one (1) unit (not even described) on the route: Baguio City to any point in Region1. According to its Record Officer, however, the application was not pushed through and it remained a pre-docketed application until now.
Of course, this is not surprising to me because I know even then that there were many applications / grants of CPCs docketed by “unauthorized person” and “without records” in LTFRB Region 1 as testified to in the Affidavit-Complaint of its former Records Officer, Ms. Arlene Rimando that even reached the DOTC and the Office of the Ombudsman, but nothing happened to it.
What is surprising to me is the fact that after 8 years or in 2005, the LTFRB-CAR issued a Decision granting CPCs to an application denominated as: “Application for Change Party Applicant for the amendment of route with substitution of units of an application for issuance of a Certificate of Public Convenience to Operate a Vehicle-for-Hire service” in the name ofJAMES VALEROS – First Party, REGINA SIBAYAN– Second Party, authorizing the applicants to operate twelve (12) units of Vehicle-for-Hire Service in Baguio City to any point in the Cordillera Administrative Region (CAR), based on an application merely pre-docketed and was never granted.
In the records of LTFRB-CAR itself, the application was filed on 24 December 2004, then a Notice of Hearing was issued on 13 January 2005 by Atty. Guillermo Kadatar signing for Hearing Officer, Atty. Brenda Poklay and the hearing and reception of evidence thereof was conducted by Atty. Brenda Poklay herself being the designated Hearing Officer then.
As a former Regional Director, I could safely say that this application signed and filed by Regina Sibayan alone (as Second Party) and the hearing conducted thereof by LTFRB-CAR were very irregular to say the least, and not within the ambit of procedural rules and policies of the Board. For instance:
1. There is no such thing under the rules and policies of the Board as an application for change party with amendment of route and with substitution of 10 units based on a pre-docketed application for one (1) unit only;
2. If at all it was acceptable to the Regional Director exercising discretion thereon, it should have been made with the knowledge and consent of JAMES S. VALEROS, the alleged First Party applicant.
3. The hearing was done and completed based on submitted false and erroneous documentary evidences and Formal Offer of Evidence, such as the following:
a) The copy of newspaper submitted in the case was yet an issue of May 2001, or four (4) years before the application was filed and the Notice of Hearing as published in the said paper refers to an application by Regina Sibayan in Case No. 2001-BC-444 for 15 units which was a different case.
b) the units submitted were mostly owned and registered to other persons but no deeds of conveyance were executed in favor of applicant Regina Sibayan.
c) even my Proton car which is not a van but a sedan and therefore not acceptable as vehicle for hire, and the commuter van of my daughter, Mrs. Melody Brawner, which was already disposed of in 2004 were both submitted as units applied for without our knowledge. And, both the CRs and ORs of our motor vehicles presented thereof were yet issued in 1997 or not current as per requirement of the Board.
d) the financial proof of bank deposit was not current (last dated 15 March 2004) and having a balance of P55, 963.06 which was insufficient as financial capacity for 12 units of vans.
e) the Information Data Sheet of Operators and Drivers contained only one (1) driver for 12 units of vans in the person of her husband, who was then an active member of Philippine National Police
f) the proof of garage for the 12 units applied for was yet issued in April 2003 (not 2005) by the Punong Barangay of Brgy. Pico, La Trinidad, Benguet where applicant Regina Sibayan was not a resident (she had always been residing in Camp 7, Baguio City)
g) there were no markings of documents or exhibits submitted and formally offered by applicant Regina Sibayan which were all unabashedly admitted by the Hearing Officer.
All told, the hearing or reception of evidence obviously was a moro-moro, as we call it. This could not have happened if there was no conspiracy between applicant Regina Sibayan who was a popularly known influential fixer and the Hearing Officer thereof. Even the use of my name as First –Party applicant was probably a part of the conspiracy. We can only surmise what the motives and purposes of the authors were!
Consequently, I had to explain to the Honorable Chairman that I could not have possibly filed that VFH franchise application in 1997 because at that time, in fact, I had already filed an affidavit-complaint about irregularities in the issuance of franchises in violation of the moratorium declared by the Board en banc against Regional Director Daniel Tapia and some of his staffs. Thus, I assured him that in the instant case I have appeared before the Board and sought relief for my clients with “clean hands” as I always had in all cases before LTFRB, the courts and other fora. These I attribute not only to the ethics of this profession I have chosen to follow after my retirement from the military, but also to the Honor Code ingrained in me by our Alma Mater, the Philippine Military Academy, admonishing me at all times not to lie, cheat, steal, or tolerate those who do.
The history of franchising in Region I and CAR is replete with irregularities in the issuance of Certificates of Public Convenience. The above case as illustrated is only a tip of the iceberg so called. Thus, the Audit Team sent by the good Chairman Ginez to investigate and audit the franchising records should not confine their focus and attention alone on the 1400 irregularly issued CPCs inventoried and submitted by the LTFRB-CAR to the Board en banc. If the Audit Team intends to be thorough, it should consider the facts that:
1) About 50% of all existing CPCs in CAR were issued during the moratorium period from 1996 to the present.
2) All the vans that were given CPCs as VFH starting 1997, then converted as Mega Tax (now full fledged taxis), Point-to-Point (PsP) express service, Garage-to-Terminal (GT service) and now UV Express Service were all in violation of the moratorium under Memorandum Circular No. 98-026 which is still in effect.
3) All PUVs that were issued CPCs in the first instance from 1996 to the present were in circumvention of the moratorium, hence, irregularly-issued.
4) All derivative franchises, that is, CPCs that were sold and transferred from franchises issued in the first instance from 1996 to the present and subsequently renewed are all likewise irregular.
5) CPCs described in the Affidavit of the former Records Officer, Ms Arlene Rimando and the Memorandum arising from the audit report of Atty. Flordeliza Reyes but not included in the said Inventory are likewise irregular.
This is, if the Audit team would like to be comprehensive in their audit and investigation of all irregular CPCs to enable the Board en banc to appropriately decide whether or not the petition for legalization could be granted. The legalization of irregular taxi CPCs issued in violation of the Public Service Act was after all “legalized” by the Board en banc under its Memorandum Circular No. 2000-019.
We truly hope the Honorable Board will do the same!
Incidentally, considering that the irregularly-issued CPCs have as its origin in the LTFRB Region 1, its personnel who have been designated members in the present Audit team should have declined being included in the team, not because of anything, but out of “delicadeza.”