Pantranco bus franchise still alive, Roxas toldBy Marlon Ramos
Philippine Daily Inquirer
What “Lazarus” franchises?
Transportation Secretary Manuel “Mar” Roxas defied a 1993 Supreme Court decision that favored former workers of the bankrupt Pantranco North Express Inc. when he stopped the sale of 489 franchises to bus companies plying north and Central Luzon routes, the Pantranco Employees Association (PEA) said Tuesday.
Jun Pascua, PEA president, said Roxas’ claim that the franchises formerly owned by Pantranco had expired when the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) allowed their “resurrection” in March.
“The franchises for those buses were not dead as Secretary Roxas claims. He should verify the information given to him before issuing statements that hurt poor workers like us,” said Pascua in a phone interview.
Pascua said the high court ruled in 1993 that some 2,200 workers of the defunct bus firm were entitled to back wages, retirement pay and other monetary benefits.
When Pantranco went bankrupt in the early 1990s, he said the court ordered the garnishment of its assets and properties to settle its financial obligations to its employees. The franchises were thus transferred to the employees.
Pascua said the Court of Appeals upheld the National Labor Relations Commission resolution that awarded the franchises to the former Pantranco workers.
“Most of us are already senior citizens. We cannot find work anymore. We beg Roxas to respect the Supreme Court decision and allow the sale of the bus franchises,” he said.
On Monday, Roxas assailed LTFRB officials for allowing the resurrection of the bus franchises which, he said, had expired when Pantranco ceased its operations.
“We are calling these the ‘Lazarus’ franchises because these were resurrected. For the longest time, the LTFRB had been saying that these franchises were dead,” Roxas said.
Five bus firms—GV Florida Lines, Dagupan Bus Lines, Saulog Transit, Partas and Baliwag Transit—had questioned the sale of the franchises by the ex-Pantranco employees to the Hernandez family which owns Victory Liner, Luzon Cisco Transport, Bataan Transit, First North Luzon Bus Co. and Pangasinan Five Star.