BAGUIO CITY – The Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) junked all oppositions against the opening of the 200 taxi franchises in Baguio City and La Trinidad for alleged lack of merit.
In a 12-page order dated January 29, 2021, the LTFRB en banc ordered the LTFRB-Car to continue and carry on the application process as mandated by Memorandum Circular (MC) No. 2019-016 and Board Resolution No. 117, series of 2020.
The board stated that as provided by Department Order No. 2017-011 otherwise known as the Omnibus guidelines on the Planning and identification of Public road Transportation Services and Franchise issuance, the LTFRB is mandated to implement the aforesaid order and to encourage and require the consolidation of operators and establishment of bigger coordinated fleets of public utility vehicles (PUVs).
Further, the order stipulated that incentives and higher priority may be granted to operators with larger fleet sizes using higher capacity vehicles.
“After the thorough evaluation of the allegation propounded by all oppositors, the board finds no cogent reason to vacate the implementation of Board Resolution No. 117, series of 2020. Said resolution have commenced and initiated since 2018 where there were previous consultations to all stakeholders by virtue of the LTFRB Office Order 2018-068 directing LTFRB-CAR to conduct a study on the need to augment the number of taxi units in its area of jurisdiction,” the order stressed.
The Board added that the transportation is dynamic in nature in addressing the supply and demand of public transport. As a consequence of its nature, the board has to adapt to the changing and varying situation, especially to have its issuances in accord with the policies of the present administration’s thrust implemented by the Department of Transportation.
According to the order, the recommendation of the former OIC-Regional director of the DOTR-CAR was not considered by the board as the abandoned or expired franchises were not feasible as the said issue was already addressed by the issuance of MC No. 2018-011 and that the same runs counter to the existing issuance of the board, where it provided that ‘all abandoned and expired certificates of public convenience as of December 2012 are hereby declared cancelled and open for appropriation.’
With respect to the opposition of the local government, the board stressed that the aforesaid MC No. 2019-016 was issued prior to the assumption of the current administration and that the consultation with commuters and public utility vehicle operators and the coordination with the city were made both during the previous and current administrations.
Moreover, the board pointed out that it has taken all the inputs, comments and data from all stakeholders in careful consideration to address not just the plea of the PUV applicants and traffic management in the city, but also the urgent need to address public need of providing public transport.
The LTFRB claimed that given the Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) situation in the region and in the city, the regional franchising and regulatory office may accept applications for taxi services when justified in a gradual and calibrated manner.
On December 1, 2017, the city council issued Resolution No. 422, series of 2017, which favorably endorsed to the LTFRB central office for its consideration the petition of concerned taxi operators to allow the late filing of application for extension of validity of expired certificates of public convenience.
Subsequently, on May 31, 2018, the board issued MC No. 2018-011 entitled opening of applications for appropriation abandoned or expired CPCs.
Moreover, on April 10, 2019, the board issued MC No. 2019-016 otherwise known as opening additional taxi franchises for Baguio City and La Trinidad, Benguet to any point in the Cordillera.
Based on the aforesaid circular, 4 applicants filed their applications, particularly Cordillera Basic Sectors Transport Cooperative, NJL Transport and Trusted Transport Cooperative, ERMADRADA Taxi Transport Corporation and BLISTT Alliance of Transport Multipurpose Cooperative but the aforesaid applicants were disqualified.
The board in pursuit of providing adequate and safe taxi services within Baguio and La Trinidad, Benguet issued on July 2, 2020 Board Resolution No. 117, series of 2020 that re-opened the selection process under MC No. 2019-016 to all interested parties.
ERMADRADA, Polaris Transport Cooperative and Baguio PUV Transport Corporation were issued selection notices on August 14, 2020 while BLISTT Alliance of Transport Multipurpose Cooperative was issued a selection notice on September 8, 2020.
The LLTFRB gave sufficient time for all oppositors, including the city government, and the applicants to submit their respective positions papers on the aforesaid matter which were evaluated and assessed as part of the recently issued order.
While the Office of the LTFRB Executive Director received the endorsement of the LTFRB-CAR on November 17, 2020, the board subsequently issued the order pursuant to existing laws, rules and regulations. By HENT