LTFRB cancels Don Mariano bus franchise
MANILA, Philippines—The Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) on Tuesday cancelled the franchise of the Don Mariano Bus Transit after it was found guilty of several violations.
On Dec. 16, 2013, a bus of the Don Mariano Transit plunged from the Skyway in Parañaque City, killing 20 people and hurting several others.
LTFRB chair Winston Ginez said at a news conference that Don Mariano’s seven certificates of public convenience covering a total of 78 buses were revoked and upon finality of the decision, their license plates would be destroyed and never reissued.
Don Mariano has the option to appeal the decision to the board, which the company was expected to exercise, said Don Marinao’s legal counsel Jason Cantil, who was present during the briefing.
The investigation was launched after a Don Mariano bus fell off the Skway last Dec. 16, landing on a van on the highway below. LTFRB said 21 people were killed and 24 others were injured. Don Mariano’s entire fleet had been placed in “preventive suspension” following the accident.
In making its decision, the regulator also looked into the company’s checkered safety track record. Moreover, findings that Don Mariano allowed the illegal use or change of chassis of its buses without informing LTFRB “is a clear misrepresentation, to say the least, which this board can never tolerate,” Ginez said.
“With all the evidence submitted and gathered, there is no doubt that respondent Don Mariano has repeatedly failed to comply with the terms and conditions of the certificates of public convenience granted to it,” Ginez said at the press conference.
Ginez noted that Don Mariano not only failed to be diligent in choosing its drivers and undertaking necessary remedial action in the wake of previous accidents but it also failed to provide and maintain services which are “safe, proper and adequate.”
Cantil said their immediate option was to file a motion for reconsideration with the LTFRB and argue that only the franchise of the bus involved in the accident should have been involved in the decision.
“In our mind, it should not have been all franchises. Only one franchise should have been affected although we respect the decision,” Cantil said.
The franchise that Cantil was referring to involves 21 buses, about a quarter of Don Mariano’s fleet.
Ginez, minutes before announcing the LTRB’s ruling, said he did not agree with this argument.
“Roadworthiness is a continuing requirement which is undertaken by the operator from the time the certificate of public convenience is awarded until its termination,” Ginez said. “Considering the number of accidents of which units of the respondent were in involved in the past, this board has every right to look into all the units covered by all the certificates of public convenience granted to it.”