MANILA, Philippines - The Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) is set to elevate to the Supreme Court (SC) a decision of the Court of Appeals (CA) lifting the suspension of a bus company involved in an accident in Bontoc, Mt. Province last Feb. 7 that left 14 people dead.
The LTFRB has consulted the Office of the Solicitor General on the legal implications of the CA decision, and its chairman, Winston Ginez, said the OSG wants to seek the SC’s guidance on the extent of the board’s powers in cases wherein transport firms fail to exercise extraordinary diligence in protecting their passengers.
In a recent order, the CA ordered the lifting of the suspension on the 186 buses of GV Florida Transport. The suspension started last March 11 and would have ended in September.
The bus involved in the Bontoc mishap was bought by GV Florida from Dagupan Bus Co. and used a franchise that Mt. Province Cable Tours sold to the bus firm.
The LTFRB earlier had ordered the six-month suspension of the 28 franchises of GV Florida – covering 186 buses – for its unauthorized purchase of the Mt. Province Cable Tours franchise and the unauthorized use of the bus registered to Dagupan Bus Co., which the board said were violations of the Public Service Code.
The LTFRB also cancelled the franchise – covering 10 buses, including the ill-fated unit – that GV Florida bought from Mt. Province Cable Tours.
The CA, however, said GV Florida was penalized for a “non-existing violation.”
According to Ginez, the suspension of GV Florida would have been lifted only once all its drivers secure National Competency III certification from the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority and undergo compulsory drug testing; its conductors get licenses from the Land Transportation Office; and all its buses undergo roadworthiness inspection.