December 8, 2022

The Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board has given the green light for 183 taxi units to operate in Baguio and the rest of the Cordillera.

The order was issued two years after several taxi cooperatives submitted their intent to operate taxi units under the Omnibus Franchising Guidelines, which permits the operation of public transportation if managed by a cooperative or corporation.

Operation of the taxi units have been stalled after Mayor Benjamin Magalong opposed the opening of application for new franchise.

In an order dated March 24, LTFRB Chair Martin Delgra said the issues raised by the city government are a rehash of previous arguments that have already been answered by the LTFRB board en banc.

Delgra said the arguments raised by the city government only concern the city of Baguio but failed to consider the demand for public transportation of other towns and municipalities in the region.

He said the report of the Traffic and Transportation Management Division (TTMD) of the City Engineering Office, which showed data to prove that there are enough taxi units in Baguio, is selective.

“Public oppositor presented selective data which is favorable to their cause and does not reflect the whole study and data result of the TTMD,” Delgra said.

He further pointed out that it is ironic for Baguio to lessen the number of vehicles when it presented data showing that the city’s population is increasing it being a tourism and educational center, hence the demand for more forms of public transportation.

In 2020, the city government filed a motion for reconsideration after the LTFRB denied the city’s   petition opposing the application. The motion, however, failed to present new arguments and evidence for the board to reverse its earlier decision.

Arguments raised by the city government include absence of consultation on the need for additional taxi units; the present number of taxis in Baguio is enough; and there is an existing moratorium on the issuance of new franchises.

Delgra reiterated that the 183 units are not an addition to the present number of permitted units allowed to operate as the new operators will supplant the franchise of abandoned or cancelled certificates of public convenience.

He added there is no truth to the city’s claim that there was no consultation prior to the issuance of the memorandum circular that allowed 200 units to operate.

He said records show that in 2018, there was a consultation where Councilor Benny Bomogao represented the city government.

“It is improper for the present administration of Baguio to question the validity of such act of the previous administration that already expressed support to the clamor of concerned operators to allow them to file late filing of extension of validity,” Delgra added.

On the city’s claim that there is a moratorium on the issuance of franchises, Delgra said the moratorium has been superseded through the issuance of Memorandum Circular 2019-016, which allowed 200 units to operate in Baguio, La Trinidad to any point in CAR.

The four taxi cooperatives granted a franchise began operating in March. – Rimaliza A. Opiña