No justification for reviving ‘Lazarus franchises’
After reading the Bizz Buzz item “Reviving dead franchises” (2/19/18), this question came to mind: How did the third division of the Court of Appeals under Justice Normandie Pizarro find in 2016 the tortured justification to revive the so-called “Lazarus franchises”?
The background is important. Yes, it was Pizarro’s division that revived the Lazarus franchises, which totaled 489 and covered, when they were active bus franchises, major provincial routes that included Metro Manila.
The franchises revived by the Pizarro division had been inoperative since the early ’90s and had been officially declared dead since 1993.
These were franchises of the defunct Pantranco North Express Inc., which had been hemorrhaging since the early ’80s, sequestered by the government in 1986 and declared worthless in the early ’90s. The Fisher Mall along Quezon Avenue now stands at the former main terminal and main offices of Pantranco.
Many attempts by creditors and other claimants to cash in on the franchises in the ’90s had been denied by the now-defunct Department of Transportation and Communications (DOTC).
Public utility vehicle franchises have the shelf life of NFA rice and the mere failure to renew them regularly — or the failure to use them — are automatically meted out with the cancellation of the franchises.
As op-ed pieces of the Inquirer in 2010 rightly said, the effort to revive the long-dead franchises was a cynical effort to use the workers to revive and milk whatever commercial value that can be obtained from them.
The DOTC, now the Department of Transportation, has frozen the grant of regular provincial franchises since 1992 to help ease the horrible Metro Manila traffic gridlocks.
The administration of President Duterte has started awarding provincial bus franchises but only of the point-to-point kind. No more room for regular bus franchises, also for traffic-alleviation reasons.
The House of Representatives has come out with the draft of a “Traffic Crisis Act” and the Senate is working to do the same because of the traffic gridlocks. Unleashing 489 buses into the major roads of what President Duterte has called “dying Metro Manila” will be a mockery of the efforts of the two chambers of Congress to help ease these gridlocks .
The Japan International Cooperation Agency said that metropolitan traffic gridlocks cost the economy P2.4 billion daily. It would be P7 billion a day if nothing is done, it warned. Or it would be P7 billion a day if the Pizarro ruling is implemented.
There is simply no single shred of legal, political or economic evidence to justify the revival of the “Lazarus franchises.”
The Supreme Court has issued a temporary restraining order on the Pizarro decision. The high court is now deliberating on the Court of Appeals case.
ED LAXAMANA, Concepcion, Lubao, Pampanga
Subscribe to INQUIRER PLUS to get access to The Philippine Daily Inquirer & other 70+ titles, share up to 5 gadgets, listen to the news, download as early as 4am & share articles on social media. Call 896 6000.