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EDITORIAL: Unfair competition and discriminatory

Most of the franchised holders of certificates of public convenience for passenger for a fee transport system are entitled to air their gripes against the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board’s (LTFRB) adoption of entering into contracts with select operators to provide free transportation to a limited number of commuters only.

The scheme, supposedly intended to cushion the impact of the economic crisis attributable to the spiralling cost of fuel, suffers from at least two basic flaws. It promotes unfair competition and discriminates upon the greater number of public transport operators.

For one to be able to engage in the public transport business, a franchise must be secured aside from applying for certificate public convenience for a specific line.

Basically, under the law and based on jurisprudence, the operator is bound not to engage in cut-throat competition. A classic case is charging a fare at a very low rate which could lead to a poorer quality of service.

Proceeding from that premise, obviously LTFRB, in contracting select public transport operators to provide free rides to some commuters not only violates the basic rationale against cut-throat competition but also promotes unfair competition.

Unfair competition occurs when the practice is essentially a deceptive or wrongful business practice that economically harms either consumers or business entities. The LTFRB scheme is also susceptible to grave abuse of discretion and may eventually pave the way leading to discrimination.

“Libreng sakay” scheme benefits only a limited share of the public transport business and discriminates many who are deprived of the privilege. Is this not a clear case of advocating cut-throat competition, which is eventually detrimental to the riding public?

Immediately noticeable is the reduced frequency of intervals of trips like what is happening now in the Libmanan-Naga line. The same problem has been bugging the Calabanga-Naga route.

While at short range LTFRB’s approach in providing free transport to commuters may prove beneficial, the same is suffering from want of sustainability. As of this writing, some of those who availed of the LTFRB initiative are already complaining for not having been paid on time.

As things stand, neither those who availed of the LTFRB move nor those deprived of the special treatment have expressed their gratitude. It will not take long when the riding public would realize they have been taken for a ride.

Who benefits most then? Who else but those empowered to exercise discretion. No wonder why doing away with the “colorum” plague has been a never ending scandal.


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