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Sibling rivalry could cripple bus sector

By LITO RULONA, Correspondent .

AN ongoing fight between two brothers for the control of the Bacolod-based Yanson group is threatening to snowball and cripple public bus transport operations in Mindanao, a director of the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) said over the weekend.

READING OF MANIFESTO. PACIWU Vallacar Transit Chapter president Franny Santarin (left) and Mindanao Alliance of Land Transport and General Workers’ Union founder and administrator Jose Ares read their respective unions’ manifesto on the management crisis affecting the Yanson Group of Bus Companies, during a press conference in Bacolod City on Thursday (July 11, 2019). They said the incident could cause confusion among the thousands of workers in five bus companies. (PNA Photo)

The Yanson group operates about 2,300 public buses in Mindanao, 550 of which serve passengers in Cagayan de Oro who travel to Zamboanga, Surigao, Cotabato, General Santos and Davao areas, vice versa, said Aminoden Guro, LTFRB director for Region 10.

If the power struggle between siblings Roy and Leo Rey Yanson escalates, it could paralyze at least 80 percent of bus transport sector operations in Mindanao, warned Guro.

The Yanson siblings have waged a corporate and legal battle. The firm’s board of directors has reportedly appointed Roy as the group’s president, a move that, in effect, replaced Leo Rey and turned him into a mere member of the board.

According to Roy’s lawyer Shiela Simon, the board also replaced other corporate officers.

The multibillion-peso Yanson-owned Vallacar Transit Corp. operates the Rural Transit of Mindanao Inc., Bachelor Express Inc., Mindanao Star Bus Transport Inc., and Sugbo Transit Express Inc..

Leo Rey has questioned the move of his Roy and other siblings Emily and Ricardo Yanson, and Ma. Lourdes Celina Lopez, and called their acts “illegal.”

Director Guro said that while the conflict is internal, he is worried about how the corporate dispute would impact on the public bus transport sector and travel in Mindanao, noting that the Yanson Group is the dominant bus firm in the country’s second largest island.

“Dako kaayo kini og epekto sa mga sumasakay if the internal conflict worsens, and if it remains unresolved. RTMI serves almost all routes in Mindanao. With Cagayan de Oro as their base, destinations can go as far as Surigao on the east, Zamboanga on the west, Cotabato on the southwest and Davao on the southeast,” he said.

In the event that the worst happens, Guro said the LTFRB would summon the bus company’s executives within 24 hours and ask them to explain.

Guro said the group can be charged with abandonment of service if that happens.

He said one rule attached in the LTFRB franchise  is that a firm can only suspend its route services 15 days after it has  files a notice with the LTFRB.

Guro said one day of suspension alone would result in inconveniences and damages.

“Mo-issue gilayon kita kanila og summon asking for an explanation kung ngano kalit lamang sila nga mo-undang sa ilang biyahe. Kung dili nila ma-explain pag-ayo ato silang ipa-penalize,” he said.

Guro said it has prepared for a quick response in case the power struggle results in workers’ unrest or even a “transport pahulay.” Given a scenario like this, he said, the LTFRB would seek the help of other bus companies.

Vallacar Transit Corp. was founded in 1968 by spouses Ricardo and Olivia Yanson in Negros. In 1981, the company ventured into Mindanao and bought Fortune Express and Bachelor Express in Cagayan de Oro in 1985, and formed Rural Transit of Mindanao Inc. In 2005, the bought bought out Lilian Express Inc. and Mary May Express.

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