Court denies bus firms’ petition to nullify LTFRB order
The Court of Appeals has dismissed for lack of merit the petition of three bus companies to nullify a Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) order that allowed the sale of Pantranco North Express Inc. franchises to rival bus firms.
In throwing out the petition filed by the three bus companies, the appellate court said they failed to support their claim they would “suffer grave injustice” due to the sale of the 489 Pantranco franchises to rival bus firms owned by one family.
The petition was lodged by Philippine Rabbit Bus Lines Inc., Genesis Transport Service Inc. and Pangasinan Solid North Transit Inc. They asked the court to void the LTFRB’s May 21 resolution that allowed the public auction of the Pantranco franchises by its employees who lost their jobs when the bus company closed down in 1993.
“In the case at bar, there is no showing that the matter is of extreme urgency and that the petitioners will suffer grave injustice or sustain injury beyond possibility of repair or beyond possible compensation in damages,” the court said in its June 28 ruling.
“The petitioners’ application for the issuance of a temporary restraining order or writ of preliminary injunction is hereby denied,” it said.
The three-page ruling was written by Associate Justice Romeo Barza, with Associate Justices Noel Tijam and Edwin Sorongon concurring.
The Pantranco Retrenched Employees Association (Panrea) and the Pantranco Employees Association (PEA) welcomed the Court of Appeals ruling, saying it was affirmation of previous orders of the National Labor Relations Commission and the Supreme Court granting their labor claims against Pantranco.
They stressed that the sale of the Pantranco franchises to the Hernandez family—which owns Victory Liner, Luzon Cisco Transport, Bataan Transit, First North Luzon Bus Co. and Pangasinan Five Star—was to settle the back wages, separation pay and other benefits the bankrupt bus company owed its workers.
Franchises still active
In junking the three bus firms’ petition, Panrea and PEA said the court also recognized that the 489 franchises they sold to the Hernandez family “were still valid and were not expired” as claimed by Transportation Secretary Manuel Roxas.
“The CPCs (certificates of public convenience) did not expire (when) the bus firm closed due to bankruptcy in 1993. Thus, the CPCs were legally and validly levied and auctioned,” the two groups said.
“Franchise verification documents will show the franchises were listed as active by no less than the LTFRB itself,” they added.
In allowing the sale of the franchises by the two labor unions to the Hernandez family, Panrea and PEA said the LTFRB “merely enforced the constitutional mandate to give protection to labor, as well as the social justice clause, when it affirmed the application of the labor unions with respect to the sale.”
“The crux of the entire issue is the proper satisfaction of the claims of the members of the unions,” they said.
Roxas has held the sale in abeyance pending a review by the Department of Transportation and Communications.
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