DoTC holds transfer of Pantranco franchises to Victory LinerBy Paolo G. Montecillo
Philippine Daily Inquirer
The government has deferred its confirmation of the validity of the sale of close to 500 former Pantranco bus company franchises to the Victory Liner group following opposition from rival bus firms.
The Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) said Transportation Secretary Mar Roxas, due to anticompetition concerns, had ordered a review of the regulator’s decision to allow the transfer of the disputed franchises to a single player.
“The confirmation of the [sale of the] franchises has been postponed so no one can use these franchises yet,” LTFRB board member Manuel Iway said in an interview Tuesday.
After any franchise is granted to an individual by the LTFRB, the regulator still needs to confirm whether there is a corresponding vehicle that meets the necessary government standards to which the franchise will be assigned. “Once we confirm a franchise, only then can these be used on the road,” Iway said.
The postponement came after five bus companies—GV Florida Lines, Dagupan Bus Lines, Saulog Transit, Partas and Baliwag Transit—asked the DoTC to prohibit the transfer of the franchises to the Victory Liner group, the country’s biggest bus company.
Ownership of the disputed franchises was awarded by the Court of Appeals—upholding a National Labor Relations Commission decision—in favor of former Pantranco employees that never got their retirement benefits when the company closed down. The employees later sold the franchises to the Hernandez family, which runs Victory Liner and several other bus firms.
LTFRB’s Iway, for his part, was puzzled at the five bus firm’s opposition, saying they never opposed the transfer until these were sold to Victory Liner. “They could have filed a motion for reconsideration when we awarded the franchises to the employees but they never did,” Iway said.
Meanwhile, Agham party list Representative Angelo Palmones on Tuesday asked the House transportation committee to investigate the LTFRB’s move, echoing the statements by the five complaining bus companies that the franchises have been “legally dead” for nearly two decades. Palmones filed House Resolution No. 2517 so the chamber could look deeper into the franchise award, which he described as “hasty, brazen and illegal.”
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