December 8, 2022

The city council last week approved a resolution requesting the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board to extend the period for the acceptance of applications for consolidation of public utility conveyances in Baguio City for another year.

The body issued the request in view of the appeal from some jeepney associations in the city that decided to consolidate their ranks after initially opposing the government’s PUV modernization program and were unable to meet the deadlines set by the LTFRB since 2018 for the filing of application for consolidation, the latest of which was last March 31.

The council, on motion of committee on public utilities, transportation, and traffic legislation chair Benny Bomogao, said the LTFRB should consider the situation since the livelihood of residents and public transport service will be adversely affected if those who failed to consolidate on time will not be given extension.

During the June 7 council session, LTFRB-Cordillera Director Lalaine Sobremonte told council members the agency cannot grant the appeal of concerned transport groups since they were given ample to work on their consolidation.

“The issue is that deadline is a deadline, which had been moved several times since the PUV modernization program started in 2018. It would be unfair to those who complied if we accept applications past the deadline,” Sobremonte said.

The Mines View Gibraltar Transport Cooperative, represented by its president Tito Dalilis and counsel, Atty. Jocelyn Buclig, appealed to the city council to support their application at the LTFRB and their request to extend the period to accept late applications.

The group filed its application days after the March 31 cut-off since its certification of registration before the Cooperative Development Authority took four months to process and had to process the other requirements of the LTFRB for the application.

The group’s application was denied at the regional level, and also when it applied at the LTFRB central office, which only accepts applications for PUVs plying interregional routes.

Vice Mayor Faustino Olowan asked the LTFRB to give consideration to the group and others on the same predicament, since the PUV modernization program is supposed to encourage the transport sector to supportthe same.

“We understand that this has been an issue but foremost, operators and drivers in Baguio did not want consolidation. These are antecedent facts that should be considered by LTFRB. One way of convincing these members is for them to be consolidated. Do not deny them now because these are the groups na ayaw ng consolidation noon and ngayon parang sinasabi niyo pasensiya kayo, you did not file. As prayed for, there must be human consideration as we all know they will be losing their livelihood and franchise,” Olowan said.

Councilor Arthur Allad-iw said not granting an extension would affect livelihood and public service.

“Our concern is madadagdagan na naman ang unemployed at mawawalan ng livelihood, and if our people lose their livelihood, it will be another problem for the city. Service to the public would be affected if there will not be enough public transport to serve areas,” Allad-iw said.

Sobremonte, who made the suggestion for the council to come up with the resolution, said it will endorse the same to its central office.

She said the option for Dalilis’ group and other groups in similar situation is to join other transport cooperatives with their service route, in this case with the Mines View Transport Coop, whose application for consolidation was approved, as it has discretion to petition for amendment to increase membership as provided for by law.

She added LTFRB continues to issue provisional authority for at least one year to transport groups that were not able to submit application for consolidation and these groups are not prohibited to ply within their route.

Through memorandum circulars, the LTFRB earlier set the deadline for the filing of applications from public transport groups to consolidate first last 2018, which was later movedto June 2020, again on December 2020, and finally on March 31.

Sobremonte said 87.21 percent of the public transport groups in the Cordillera met the last deadline and most of which are plying Baguio City routes. – Hanna C. Lacsamana