The city government fought hard to oppose the entry of 200 taxi slots into the city. However, the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) Central Office nixed the opposition of the local government and carried on with its plan to open the selection process.
This was the answer of the Baguio City Council to James Bolinao, President of Association of Independent Taxi Operators and Drivers in Cordillera (AITODC), when he asked the legislative body during the regular session last Monday why these new taxi units are now plying the city roads.
Councilor Benny Bomogao, Chairperson of the Sanggunian’s Committee on Public Utilities, Transportation, and Traffic Legislation disputed the claim of the LTFRB in Board Resolution No. 243 Series of 2019 which stated that “the issues and concerns surrounding the suspension of the opening of taxi franchises in Cordillera Administrative Region, particularly Baguio City, had been properly addressed and threshed out by concerned agencies and LGU, paving the way for the lifting of the said suspension.”
Bomogao said, as per the records of LGU-Baguio, there was no consultation between the LTFRB and LGU-Baguio in which the latter gave its approval for the lifting of the said suspension.
Furthermore, the city council informed Bolinao that the city government’s appeal has been elevated to the Department of Transportation (DOTr). The appeal is still awaiting resolution.
In his decision letter dated January 29, 2021, Martin Delgra III, LTFRB Chairperson, directed the Regional Franchising and Regulatory Office – Cordillera Administrative Region (RFRO-CAR) to carry on with the application process.
“After the thorough evaluation and review of the allegation propounded by all the oppositors, the board finds no cogent reason to vacate the implementation of Board Resolution No. 117 Series of 2020,” the letter stated.
The letter added that the opening of the application for the 200 taxi units is premised to fill in the gap between the existing number of taxi units and the actual demand.
The board asserted that there is a deficit of 183 units to cater to the riding public in the city and that these 200 additional units are not new or fresh franchises but are replacements of the abandoned and expired ones.
“The RFRO-CAR may accept applications for taxi services when justified in a gradual and calibrated manner,” the letter stressed.
In 2020, various transport groups and the City Government of Baguio represented by Mayor Benjamin Magalong filed their respective position papers opposing the application of 200 taxi units.
The city government contended that the entry of additional taxi units in the city will do more harm than good, arguing that the current number was more than sufficient to cater to the needs of the riding public in the region.
However, the Board rejected the opposition of LGU-Baguio and various transport groups in the city against the implementation of LTFRB Memorandum Circular No. 2019-016 which opened the application for the additional 200 taxi units and LTFRB Resolution No. 117 Series of 2020 which reopened the selection process since the first four applicants were disqualified.
Following the Board’s decision, the city government filed an appeal before the DOTr.
The city council has been opposing the move to open the application for 200 taxi units since 2019. –Jordan G. Habbiling