Manila Bus Firms To Be Suspended

The Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) said the fate of the bus firms that participated in the November 15 strike that stranded thousands of commuters in various parts of Metro Manila will be known by mid-January next year.

LTFRB Chairman Nelson Laluces said 36 cases among the bus operators who joined the strike were deemed submitted for resolution.

“If any of these operators are found guilty of franchise violations, their franchises are to be suspended,” Laluces said.

The first batch of the LTFRB’s resolutions on these cases will come out by the second week of January, and the second batch of the agency’s resolutions will come out by February, he said.

Since November 25, the LTFRB has been conducting marathon hearings on the cases of the bus firms that went on strike on November 15.

Laluces said 74 bus operators were given a Notice to Explain. Out of these, the LTFRB has heard 65 cases, 36 of which were submitted for resolution, while 29 still have to file their position papers.

He said the LTFRB will hear the nine remaining cases by January next year.

Laluces said bus operators who failed to file their position papers would mean that they are waiving their right to do so and their cases would be submitted for decision based in the evidences gathered by the LTFRB.

In the aftermath of the strike, several sectors, including lawmakers such as Senator Vicente Sotto III, have proposed the takeover of bus operations while Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) Chairman Francis Tolentino said the franchise given to the operators is a privilege and not a right that can be taken away if there are violations committed.

Even President Benigno Aquino III has criticized the bus operators and said sanctions will be meted out on those who have inconvenienced the public.

Authorities said more than 8,000 commuters were inconvenienced by the bus shortage on those days, forcing government agencies to dispatched their vehicles to ferry them to work or schools.

The bus operators’ move came after the MMDA included buses in the Unified Vehicular Volume Reduction Program (UVVRP) or the “number-coding” which they are exempted since 2004.

The bus operators have denied that a strike took place, adding that what happened is just a “miscommunication” between the operators and the drivers who believed an earlier stand by the former to protest the UVVRP scheme. (PNA)

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