HOUSE LABOR COMMITTEE TO ROXAS: OBEY SC ON PANTRANCO BUS FRANCHISES

[PHOTO - MAR ROXAS][ DEFUNCT BUS COMPANIES OF THE PH VIDEO BELOW]

MANILA, JULY 18, 2012 (INQUIRER) By Gil C. Cabacungan - Transportation Secretary Manuel Roxas should order the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) to immediately transfer the franchises awarded to former employees of the shuttered Pantranco North Express Inc. to Victory Liner Inc.

Northern Samar Representative Emil Ong, chairman of the House committee on labor, said: “He (Roxas) has to follow the decision of the Supreme Court that the salaries of the employees have the priority lien over the assets of the bankrupt corporation. That’s the law.”

Bayan Muna party-list Representative Teodoro Casiño said Roxas “should let the LTFRB do its job of transferring the franchises to the company to which the former Pantranco workers sold it to.”

Casiño lauded Transportation Undersecretary Rafael Santos for assuring the ex-Pantranco employees headed by their two union presidents, Romy Alfonso of Pantranco Retrenched Employees Association and Jun Pascua of Pantranco Employees Association, that Roxas had not cancelled the Pantranco franchises.

Santos said what Roxas had ordered a review of the transfer of the franchises to Victory Liner, to which rival bus companies protested that the franchises should have expired when Pantranco closed down years ago.

Casiño said Pantranco’s workers had waited for decades to receive their overdue compensation. He pointed out the Supreme Court not only upheld the union’s right to the Pantranco franchises, but the LTFRB also validated their transfer to the unions.

“It’s not right for a certificate of public conveyance in the land transportation sector to be transferred arbitrarily without the consent of its rightful owner, which is the state,” Roxas had said when he suspended the May 21 decision of the LTFRB resurrecting Pantranco’s 489 bus franchises.

FROM THE TRIBUNE
Pantranco franchise under review, not canceled — DoTC Written by Tribune Friday, 13 July 2012 00:00

The Department of Transportation and Commu-nications (DoTC) is reviewing and not canceling the franchise of the country’s formerly biggest bus companies, the defunct Pantranco North Express Inc., an official of the agency assured the bus firm’s former employees who expressed worries over the claims of some bus operators that Pantranco’s franchise was already canceled or revoked.

In a statement, former employees of Pantranco represented by union presidents Romy Alfonso and Jun Pascua of Pantranco Retrenched Employees Association (Panrea) and Pantranco Employees Association (PEA) said they were assured by DoTC that what it had ordered previously was only a review of the franchise’s status, and not its cancellation.

This assurance, they said, was given by DoTC Undersecretary for Planning and Operations Rafael Santos during a meeting with union representatives last Wednesday. They said Santos denied that Transportation and Communi-cations Secretary Manuel “Mar” Roxas had ordered the franchise’s outright cancellation.

In particular, they said, Roxas simply wanted to know if everything was in order with respect to the revival of the Pantranco franchise.

Prior to the meeting, former Pantranco employees led by Alfonso and Pascua held a rally in front of the DoTC office to protest what they alleged was bias on the part of Roxas for not hearing their side of the controversy.

They claimed the franchise was valid, and that they legally sold it to the Hernandez family, which operates a number of bus lines.

But competing bus operators opposed the sale, claiming the Pantranco franchise was no longer valid. The controversy prompted DoTC action on the matter.

Prior to the franchise sale, the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) already ruled that the Pantranco franchise was legitimate and in order.

The LTFRB had awarded the franchise to over 2,000 former employees represented by two unions — to answer for millions of pesos in back wages the bus company had owed them. The employees, in turn, sold it to Hernandez family to raise just compensation due them as ruled by the Supreme Court way back in 1993.

Alfonso and Pascua said that the more than 2,000 employees of Pantranco were ust asking for “social justice” from the government after the bus company closed shop in 1993 due to bankruptcy after the government sequestered the firm and took over its management and operations in 1986.

The controversy over the sale of the franchise, however, resulted in the resignation of LTFRB Board Member Manuel Iway effective July 15, following attacks from bus operators opposed to the sale.

Iway and LTFRB board member Samuel Garcia out-voted LTFRB chairman Jaime Jacob, 2-1, last June in resolving the Pantranco issue in favor of Pantranco’s former employees.

Iway stood by his decision, saying it was based on previous LTFRB decisions regarding franchise revival, and was in compliance with court decisions that aimed to give justice to more than 2,000 retrenched employees of Pantranco.

“As much as I admire the talents and work ethics of Secretary Roxas, as well as his right as DoTC secretary to overturn the LTFRB’s decisions, I am pained that he would react to the Pantranco franchise incident in the manner that he did, and ultimately put your administration and LTFRB’s reputation in a bad light,” Iway wrote President Aquino in his resignation letter.

“While I can assure you that there is no truth to those ridiculous claims, I know it will take a miracle to convince those who have no faith in your ‘Daang Matuwid’ policy and will continue to use the Pantranco franchise incident as another reason to attack your administration,” he added.

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