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Traders hit Albay truck ban decree

LEGAZPI CITY --- Hundreds of traders in Bicol have slammed the Albay truck ban ordinance calling the regulation adversarial to economic growth as businesses are still recovering from the negative impact of the imposition of community quarantine measures as a result of the coronavirus disease (Covid-19).

The Albay Chamber of Commerce and Industry (ACCI), in a letter signed by 261 members, has strongly rejected the ordinance and urged Gov. Al Francis Bichara to cancel the truck ban regulation.

Rosemarie Quinto Rey, ACCI president, said the local chapter of the Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry (PCCI), together with other non-ACCI members, in their statement said “we would like to request redress from you good office to please relieve us from the possible adverse effect of said ordinance.”

The ACCI lamented that the chamber during the crafting and the public hearing of the ordinance was not given the opportunity to speak or be heard, giving the impression that the ordinance was already final.

Bichara signed in February this year Provincial Ordinance No. 011-2020 otherwise known as an “Ordinance banning trucks traversing along the national roads (Maharlika Highway) within the province of Albay from 6:00 to 8:00 AM and 4:00 to 7:00 PM and providing penalty for violation.

The ordinance was passed to prevent traffic congestion during peak or rush hours, which result in delays in travel to the detriment of the riding public.

Exempted from the ban are government trucks and trucks delivering goods. Violators face penalties of P3,000 for the 1st offense; P4,000 for 2nd offense; P5,000 for 3rd offense.

The passage of the truck ban was approved by majority of the Sangguniang Panlalawigan (SP) members, except for board members Raul Rosal and Howard Sim Imperial, who strongly opposed and rejected the ordinance saying “the ordinance was baseless, anti-poor, detrimental to the economy, root of corruption, and an abuse of power.”

The ACCI questioned the schedule of the truck ban saying that its schedule coincides with the arrival of trucks carrying cargoes from Northern Luzon to their respective points of destination in the province.

“The trucking ban manifests loss of time, delays and would incur additional operational costs to the prejudice of businesses and consumers,” the chamber said.

Bichara, when asked for comment, said he would meet for a dialogue this week various business groups to hear their arguments and find possible solutions to the issue.

Earlier, the Camarines Sur Chamber of Commerce and Industry (CSCCI) has filed in court a petition for certiorari with prayers for the issuance of a Temporary Restraining Order (TRO) and writ of preliminary injunction against the Albay provincial government in relation to the truck ban implementation.

Judge Maria Theresa San Juan-Loquillano of the Regional Trial Court Branch 10 based in Legazpi City has already ordered the Albay provincial government and the petitioner to file their respective position papers in relation to the prayer for TRO.

In a related development, a group composed of 24 contractors in Albay has asked Sec. Eduardo Año of the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) through DILG Bicol regional director Anthony Nuyda, for a legal opinion whether or not the Albay SP has the power to enact an ordinance regulating roads and traffic in national highways.

The Local Government Code (LGC) of 1991 explicitly vests upon the Sannguniang Bayan and Lungsod the power to pass an ordinance regulating the use of roads and traffic.

The contractors’ group said that Section 468, Article III of the LGC, does not confer to the provincial council the power to pass ordinances regulating the use of roads.

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