GENERAL SANTOS, Philippines – A local business group in South Cotabato on Friday, December 23, urged the Koronadal City government and Mindanao public transport giant Yellow Bus Lines to resolve their ongoing dispute for the sake of thousands of commuters.
Many were affected by the move of the city government to shut down YBL’s bus terminal in Koronadal City more than a week ago.
The South Cotabato Chamber of Commerce and Industry Foundation Incorporated (SCCCCIFI) pleaded to the disputing parties “to resolve in the spirit of mutual cooperation” their dispute over the legality of the bus company’s terminal operations in Koronadal.
“We closed the terminal because the bus company is operating illegally without a business permit, a violation of the local revenue code. This has been so for two years now,” said Koronadal Mayor Eliordo Ogena.
SCCCCIFI executive vice president RJ Sustiguer said the business group can take part in the discussions in finding “mutually beneficial” solutions to the prevailing dispute.
“We suggest that we take part in these discussions along with other affected stakeholders,” he said.
Sustiguer said they have noted that the dispute adversely affected workers, Christmas shoppers, and other commuters, and impacted Koronadal’s economic activities.
“We are one community in the pursuit of a vibrant business-friendly environment where entrepreneurs and investors thrive to support the sustainable development of the city,” he said.
Bernard Bolanio, YBL operations chief, said it was business as usual for them in Koronadal despite the move of the city government.
He said the local government barricaded a privately-owned bus terminal.
Despite this, Bolanio said YBL has continued its Koronadal operations, picking up and dropping off passengers along the roads.
On December 16, a city government-owned dump truck was parked at the terminal entrance, preventing YBL buses from entering and leaving.
YBL threatened to sue Ogena and other local officials, a warning the mayor merely brushed aside.
Ogena said city hall had issued several cease-and-desist orders and notices of closure, and YBL ignored them.
YBL called city hall’s move harassment against the company that has been operating since 1958.
Lawyer Cecile Diel, YBL’s spokesperson, argued that the bus company need not secure a business permit from the local government as he invoked a Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) rule for common carriers.
Diel also said YBL has secured a certification from the local government that the bus terminal conforms to Koronadal’s zoning rule.
It was not the first time that YBL and city hall had a legal dispute.
On December 27, 2019, a court directed the mayor and other officials to refrain from implementing a 2018 ordinance that required all buses and public utility vehicles in Koronadal to use the city public terminal along Robredo Avenue. The case has been elevated to the Court of Appeals (CA). – Rappler.com