THE barangay captain (village chief) of Maribago in Lapu-Lapu City is the owner of the van (Plate Number AED 1299) which figured in an accident in Alegria town, Cebu and killed six passengers and critically injured three others.
The Certificate of Public Convenience of Pangatungan’s business, Inner J Tourist Transport, was revoked and cancelled based on a February 9 decision released by the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board Central Visayas (LTFRB-7).
LTFRB-7 Regional Director Ahmed Cuizon said Inner J Tourist Transport and the operator, Joseph Pangatungan, is barred and perpetually disqualified from becoming a grantee or operator of any Certificate of Public Convenience.
Pangatungan is the Barangay Captain of Maribago in Lapu-Lapu City. He was also meted a fine of P200,000 for colorum violation.
Cuizon also ordered that a copy of the decision be furnished to the Land Transportation Office Central Visayas (LTO-7).
He recommended disciplinary action on the driver, Gilbert Dela Cruz, who admitted to have fallen asleep while driving which resulted to the vehicle hitting a tree.
The front page of the decision had the signature of Joseph Pangatungan’s son, Joshly, a proof that he received a copy of the decision on February 9.
Cuizon said the van, with plate number AED 1299, was one of the units of Inner J Tourist Transport of proprietor Joseph Pangatungan which was listed in the records of LTFRB-7 and issued a tourist transport of Certificate of Public Convenience last December 15, 2016.
On January 22, two days after the accident, LTFRB-7 issued a show cause order directing Pangatungan to explain why no disciplinary action should be taken on him and his Certificate of Public Convenience.
Pangatungan’s business and its authorized units were also placed under preventive suspension for 30 days.
During the hearing held on January 31 at the LTFRB-7 Office, Joseph Pangatungan was represented by his son, Joshly Pangatungan.
The driver, Dela Cruz, did not appear in the hearing.
“Respondent (Pangatungan) manifested that driver ignored his plea for the latter to attend the hearing. No drug test result on Mr. Dela Cruz was submitted,” the LTFRB-7 decision noted.
Cuizon said they discovered six reasons which led to the decision of perpetually disqualifying Pangatungan and his business from being granted a Certificate of Public Convenience.
One reason was that Inner J Tourist Transport did not submit an accident report. Two, Pangatungan claimed that Inner J Tourist Transport no longer owns the van that figured in the Alegria incident.
Third, the insurance coverage expired last December 13, 2017 or more than a month before the date of the accident.
Fourth, Pangatungan and his company did not extend any monetary assistance to the victims.
Fifth, Pangatungan failed to register the vehicles with LTO-7 to change its category from “private” to “for-hire.” Sixth, Pangatuan also confirmed that there are other vehicles under their franchise name, which they do not own and are merely attached to them.
Cuizon said the younger Pangatungan showed a photocopy of a Certificate of Registration and official receipt which purportedly show the name of Gilbert dela Cruz as the registered owner of the van (AED 1299).
“Nonetheless the respondent affirmed that all documents previously submitted to LTFRB-7 Office in support of their corresponding franchise application were under the name of Inner J Tourist Transport, not Gilbert Dela Cruz,” the decision read.
Cuizon said it is not hard to deduce that Pangatungan allowed another person to utilize his franchise in an arrangement known as “Kabit System.”
“We are at a loss as to how operator (Pangatungan) could possibly expect to establish due diligence and legitimacy of his operation by merely presenting papers which suggests that he has allowed another person to utilize the franchise. This only exacerbates the situation,” said Cuizon.
He said the Kabit System arrangement has long been jurisprudentially declared void for being contrary to public policy.
“Worse, it was disclosed during the hearing that this arrangement is not confined to one franchise but extends as well to respondent’s other franchises,” he said.
LTFRB-7 also emphasized that the operator failed to change the registration from private to “for-hire” with LTO-7.
Cuizon said it was clear on December 15, 2016, when Pangatungan received his Certificate of Public Convenience, that he was required to change the category of his unit as a tourist transport or for-hire van before the Office of LTO-7.
Under the law, the subject vehicles cannot be deployed and utilized as a public transport if this requirement is not complied.
To engage in public transport without the appropriate change in category from private to for-hire would constitute a colorum violation.
“Public transport law requires extraordinary diligence from operators who venture in the business,” the decision said.
Cuizon said Pangatungan showed a pattern of neglect and dismal failure in doing business, actions which are unbecoming of those involved in the public land transport business.