Baguio City Council, in its regular session last October 24, urged the Cooperative and Development
Authority (CDA) to fast-track its investigation on the alleged violations of the Board of Directors (BODs) of the Cordillera Basic Sectors Transport Cooperative (CBSTC). The council’s move came on the heels of the complaint of some CBSTC members who alleged that their incumbent BODs had failed to conduct an
election of officers.

The complainants were led by Rex Bayangan, former secretary general of CBSTC. “For emphasis, we have not had our election of officers for the past five years. This is a blatant violation of our By-Laws and upfront disrespect to democratic principles,” Bayangan wrote in his letter to the city council. During the forum, Atty. EJ Dilag, CDA-CAR representative, said a special order would soon be issued for the composition of a team that would conduct the investigation as a response to the two subsequent petitions
the office had received from the members of the cooperative.

Dilag affirmed that the transport cooperative had not conducted any general assembly for the purpose of
electing a new set of officers. He explained that, as provided for in RA 9520 or the Philippine Cooperative Code of 2008, at least ten percent of the members of a cooperative may petition for the conduct of a
special general assembly. If the petition was not acted upon, the CDA-CAR, upon receipt of the petition, will issue an order compelling the cooperative to conduct a special general assembly, he added.

He also claimed that the CBSTC officers had not undergone necessary training as mandated by the Cooperative Code. This, according to him, could be a ground for disciplinary action or even removal from their positions. In his letter, Bayangan also alleged that the officers had demanded the cooperative members/operators for the Aurora Hill and Trancoville routes through a text message to pay their shares
(P100,000.00 per unit) for the consolidation of their franchises on or before September 30, 2022.

Failure to pay, according to the text message, would mean the units would be automatically forfeited. Also, the text message stated that delay in payment would result in a penalty in the amount of P5,000.00 per day. Bayangan described this act as harassment. During the forum, Eng. Elmer Mendoza Jr., LTFRB-CAR
representative, explained that the penalty imposed by the LTFRB is given only when the cooperative had failed to “exhaust other remedies” to pay for the purchase of the modern jeepney units.

“We do not impose the penalty right away without hearing their side. If there are justifiable reasons for their failure to pay, they can be excused,” Mendoza said. Bayangan also claimed that an amount of P1,000.00 was being collected from operators of traditional jeepneys for Aurora Hill, Trancoville, and Dominican Hill
routes in exchange for provisional authority which, according to them, is issued by the Land Transportation and Franchising Board (LTFRB) for free.

Provisional authority is given to members of transport cooperatives that are still operating traditional jeepneys but are already working on transitioning to modern ones. Mendoza clarified that the only amount collected is P260.00 which is considered as a filing fee. He said that the filing fee is paid for the entire consolidation and not individually. “Whatever the officers are collecting in the amount of P1,000.00 for every provisional authority, that is not the guidance of the LTFRB,” Mendoza said.

Officers of the transport cooperative failed to attend the forum. No prior notice explaining their absence
had reached the city council. In an interview last October 27, CBSTC Chairman Jude Wal said these allegations had been magnified to cover up the irregularities that Bayangan had allegedly committed when he was the CBSTC secretary general. Wal disclosed that he and the other officers had started undertaking legal steps against Bayangan for alleged misuse of the transport cooperative’s funds.

Wal explained that the officers refused to relinquish their positions because they are still in the process of
perfecting the transport cooperative’s policies, putting into place mechanisms, and introducing more innovations. “We are open to whoever will be the next set of officers. But before the succession, we want to make sure first that everything is in place and that there are potential members to succeed our positions so that the income of the transport cooperative is sustainable,” he added.

He mentioned that the CDA-CAR had been informed of their plan to suspend the election of officers until
everything is in order. The CBSTC president also denied sending a text message advisory to the members urging them to pay their shares for consolidation. He said all advisories the officers issued went through proper communication procedures and not merely through text messaging. Furthermore, he clarified that the P1,000.00 being collected from the members was meant to shoulder the transport cooperative’s ‘administrative expenses’ for the processing of documents.

“Before we collected, we made sure that the members understood where the money was going,” he
stressed. Likewise, he disputed Mendoza’s claim that the officers had not undergone the required training.
“All the members, not only the officers, attended pre-registration seminars as required by the CDA. There, we tackled the principles and good governance of cooperativism. We also attended a cooperated education transport operation seminar conducted by the Department of Transportation with the same topics. Not only that, we undertook the pre-membership seminar on business orientation related to transport cooperatives. These seminars should have already sufficed,” he stated.

Jordan G. Habbiling/Sangguniang Panlunsod

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