DOTr/NLET/IATF insatiable greed
By Ermin Garcia Jr.
THE DOTr/NLET partnership’s slip is showing.
The duo’s efforts to promote NLET’s profit agenda obviously does not have a leg to stand on except the outdated provision in IATF’s Resolution 101 that called on bus companies to use “Integrated Terminal Exchanges” ostensibly as another health safety protocol. And the IATF wittingly plays along with the zarzuela allowing itself to be a political scapegoat for the benefit of the North Luzon Expressway Terminal and some DOTr officials.
Sadly, IATF leadership has fallen for DOTr’s biggest scam yet, victimizing commuters and passengers, vainly appearing to be justified in supporting transport issues and policies, no longer just about Covid pandemic, but promoting DOTr/NLET’s pecuniary agenda. Never in the past did we see DOTr go to such extent in bullying another national agencies to follow a script that promotes private interests, NOT public’s interests.
The DOTr/NLET partnership made the IATF a complicit in a conspiracy by issuing a self-serving statement invoking the latter’s Technical Work Group recommendation to agree not to rescind the controversial provision in its Resolution 101, to wit: “…to put the matter on status quo until further studies and recommendations may be presented to the body”!
Note DOTr/NLET’s operative words that the IATF meekly agreed to mouth shamelessly: “UNTIL FURTHER” and “MAY BE”. Translation: The IATF will never withdraw its outdated resolution that invoked circumstances of the pandemic circa 2020 giving DOTr the right to impose whatever will benefit the NLET owners!
In fact, reading the IATF Resolution 101 on hindsight, that particular item 3 of Section E on “Ports and Terminals”, was revealing. It was introduced for one and only one purpose – to promote NLET’s interests. It read: “For the National Capital Region, all buses bound for all provinces shall be required to use the Integrated Terminal Exchanges the central hub for transportation.” Then it was followed by “NO BUS COMPANY OR PUBLIC TRANSPORT SHALL BE ALLOWED USE OF THEIR PRIVATE TERMINALS.” (Underscoring in capital letters mine)
Then there was the clincher: “The uniform travel protocols shall be applicable to all LGUs and may be refined and/or amended jointly by the DILG, DOH, DOTr, DOST and the PNP without further need of an IATF issuance.” There’s the lineup of conspirators against Pangasinenses’ right to travel directly to and from the NCR to deliver the undeserved profits to NLET owners!
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HIDING TRUE AGENDA. Behind those officious claims and terms laid out for NLET’s interests by DOTr were facts that were kept away from the public and passengers:
- The support to maintain the “status quo” will mean a windfall of at least P3M monthly in parking fees for the NLET (and “friends”) from operations of Victory Liner, Five Star and Solid North alone.
The DOTr/NLET/IATF plot left out the fact that bus companies plying the NCR-North Luzon (Pangasinan) route will be made to pay P100,000 monthly to NLET for every parking channel it uses for its operations. For companies that have hourly trips to and from Pangasinan, that would result in at least P1M monthly in parking fees. Between Victory Liner, Five Star, Solid North alone, that would be a whooping P3M monthly for the NLET owners. One doesn’t have to be a rocket scientist to see how that will benefit some officials of the five agencies listed in the IATF resolution. The DOTr/NLET/IATF conspiracy was mum on the fact knowing that eventually, the costs of parking fees will be passed on to passengers because DOTr will allow it.
- The use of NLET will force passengers to suffer not only the inconvenience of being made to physically transfer to another bus from NLET to reach their final destination whether in NCR or in Pangasinan, but to suffer longer travel time and higher fares.
What the conspiracy is not telling the public is the fact that all buses are required to load and unload ONLY at the NLET. It is a scheme that will make sure that bus companies will rent more parking channels – at the expense of riding public!
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DOTr’s BLAME GAME. And throughout this charade for this almost criminal and insensitive scheme, the DOTr/NLET/IATF strategem has the gall, temerity and arrogance to blame bus companies for not fielding more buses to ferry passengers to-and-fro NCR-Pangasinan. Yet, the issue is not about refusal of bus companies to operate but refusal to submit to DOTR/NLET/IATF’s profit agenda.
Yet, the ploy is not about to let bus companies get off easy. It is plotting to confront challenges posed by bus companies who dare refuse to toe the line. DOTr plans to introduce a QR code to be installed on buses to establish its origin and destination. DOTr will install checkpoints to ascertain compliance by the bus companies with DOTr/NLET/IATF terms with the threat to impose hefty fines on those who dare defy the NLET route!
Guess who will bear the brunt of public’s anger in years ahead. The NLET owners, that’s who. The “beneficiaries” at the DOTr and IATF will long be gone but the NLET will remain a white elephant in its place, after being pilloried for its attempt to profit from a machinated scheme at the expense of the public.
Today, bus companies that refuse to be ensnared by the DOTr/NLET/IATF cabal, continue to serve commuters by loading and unloading in Angeles City/Dau/Clark Airport since they are denied special permits by LTFRB to operate direct Pangasinan-NCR routes. And patronage is growing because passengers really have no choice – it’s either they pay P400+ or use colorum vehicles that charge P1,500. For the bus companies, while they are forced to operate with trip-cutting policy without the special permits in the absence of special permits, they are doing it without shelling out P1M a month.
Indeed, without the IATF resolution, the DOTr/NLET/IATF profit agenda will end up in smoke, all because they are pursuing it at the expense of the riding public.
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REFUSING TO ACCOUNT FOR CORRUPTION. Two weeks ago, Dagupan City Mayor Brian Lim decided to perform his duty as an accountable public servant and as chief executive by delivering a report on the status of his administration’s activities, making it appear that it was his annual State of the City Address. Dagupenõs are well aware that a State of the City Address is delivered before the legislative branch which he deliberately didn’t do., instead he arranged to deliver his report before his loyal choir, not before the Sangguniang Panlungsod as the law requires.
Mr. Lim would not bear to have any councilor belonging to the majority who could raise his/her eyebrow in amusement on hearing his lies and hypocritical stances.
While he tried to look convinced that he was doing right by the people, he only exposed himself as another corrupt public official when he said he’d rather serve his constituents in every way than by acting on complaints of corruption happening every day under his watch. His barkada as advisers did him in big time on this.
To serve his constituents? Dagupeños have wondered why he refused to stand up to the LTFRB’s policy depriving Dagupeños the right to travel conveniently to-and-fro NCR! Well, what matters to him is his political agenda, and he is assured of political gains by protecting the interests of NLET, not Dagupeños.
What a pathetic image he cut through his 15-minute hypocritical performance, singing to his choir.
IATF’s declaration to raise the Covid Alert Level 2 to 3 in Dagupan City alone is a chastisement of his administration’s mismanagement of the pandemic.
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