Roxas wants LTFRB execs out
Says Pantranco franchises ‘officially expired’By Marlon Ramos, Paolo G. Montecillo
Philippine Daily Inquirer
Franchises owned by defunct Pantranco bus company were already officially expired and should never have been “resurrected” by the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB).
“If members of the LTFRB have a difference in opinion, I will welcome their resignations,” Transportation Secretary Mar Roxas said. “They are entitled to their own opinion, but they are not entitled to their own facts.”
The Department of Transportation and Communications (DoTC) earlier suspended a decision that led to the sale of the 489 franchises covering routes in Northern and Central Luzon to industry leader Victory Liner.
“We are calling these the ‘Lazarus’ franchises because these were resurrected. For the longest time, the LTFRB has been saying that these franchises were dead,” Roxas said in a briefing Monday.
The resurrection of the franchises was approved by the LTFRB in several decisions signed by board members Manuel Iway and Samuel Garcia. LTFRB chairman James Jacob, who was a recruit of Roxas, voted against bringing the franchises back to life. The franchises were revived by the LTFRB following a decision by the National Labor Relations Commission (NLRC), which was later upheld by the Court of Appeals, awarding them to former Pantranco employees.
The Pantranco employees later cashed in and sold the franchises to the Hernandez family, which also owns Luzon Cisco Transport, Bataan Transit, First North Luzon Bus Co. and Pangasinan Five Star, aside from Victory Liner.
Five smaller bus companies—GV Florida Lines, Dagupan Bus Lines, Saulog Transit, Partas and Baliwag Transit—asked the DoTC to reverse the LTFRB decision after finding out that the franchises were to be sold to Victory Liner.
LTFRB’s Iway defended the board’s decision, saying the franchises never officially expired since Pantranco’s old management filed a petition to extend the franchises’ validity. The petition was never acted upon by the LTFRB until the NLRC decision awarding the franchises to Pantranco’s employees.
He added that the LTFRB was only taking its cue from a similar DoTC decision. “When we assumed office two years ago, there was a previous decision by the LTFRB board before us awarding the franchises of BLTB (Batangas, Laguna, Tayabas Bus Co.) to another bus company,” Iway said.
“The facts of that case were similar to the Pantranco case so we were just following the precedent,” Iway said.
Roxas’ move to stop the sale of the Pantranco franchises has displeased former employees of the defunct bus company.
Laid-off workers of Pantranco North Express Inc. have cried foul over the suspension of the sale of the franchises.
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