CA lifts suspension on Florida bus firm
MANILA, Philippines–The Court of Appeals has lifted its suspension on G.V. Florida Transport Inc. whose bus unit fell off a ravine in Mountain Province early this year, leaving comedian Arvin “Tado” Jimenez and 14 others dead.
In an 18-page ruling, the appeals court 14th division allowed 186 Florida buses to ply their routes again after a three-month suspension, saying the company was “penalized for a non-existing violation.”
The Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) committed grave abuse of discretion in ordering the cancellation of the Certificates of Public Convenience (CPCs) of the 186 buses “without any factual and legal bases in the absolute absence of a violation or wrong committed,” the court said.
“It defies logic as to why the LTFRB found no ‘violations or willful and contumacious refusal to comply with the rules or regulations of the LTFRB and the provisions of the Public Service Law’ with respect to the 28 CPCs of Florida and yet wielded the penalty of suspension,” it said.
“It is at once clearly and glaringly apparent that Florida was penalized for a non-existing violation,” it said.
The decision noted that “LTFRB itself found Florida to have substantially complied with the conditions” imposed under the preventive suspension order.
At the same time, it said the suspension of the 186 buses “is not only grossly disproportionate but should not have been imposed at all in the absolute absence of a violation or wrong committed.”
“Since substantial evidence to support the imposition of the penalty of suspension against Florida’s 28 CPCs is patently wanting, such order is unarguably a gross and blatant violation of administrative due process,” the decision read.
The appellate court, however, affirmed the cancellation of the CPC of the bus unit (with plate number TXT-872) that figured in the accident last February 7 in Sitio Paggang, Talubin in Mountain Province. The same CPC, which is registered under the name of Norberto M. Cue, Sr., covers nine other buses.
The appeals court said Florida Bus failed to file the required application for approval of sale and transfer of the CPC it bought from Cue.
“We find that the LTFRB correctly applied Sections 20 and 18 of the Public Service Law which respectively prohibits the sale by any public service or its owner, lessee or operator of its property, franchises, certificates, privileges, or rights or any part thereof without the prior approval and authorization of the LTFRB and the engagement in any public service business without having first secured from the LTFRB a certificate of public convenience,” it said.
The decision was concurred in by Associate Justices Celia Librea-Leagogo and Melchor Sadang.