Baguio truck ban creates tiff with Benguet officials

>> Tuesday, July 4, 2017

BAGUIO CITY – Officials of this summer resort and that of Benguet, considered the salad bowl of the country are now at odds over implementation of a truck ban which the latter’s officials said greatly affected the province’s vegetable industry considering almost 80 percent of vegetable needs of Metro Manila and other parts of the country come from Benguet.   
Following this, Baguio mayor Mauricio G. Domogan urged provincial and municipal officials of Benguet to be sober in dealing with serious problems encountered by vegetable truckers with the city’s new truck ban ordinance which prohibits them from travelling on city roads during peak hours.
The mayor said he received reports some municipalities around the city are planning to enact ordinances that will also impose a truck ban within their areas covering trucks bringing goods to the city’s businesses which could result in delays in transport of goods from the lowlands to the city.
The order to close the Lamtang waste transfer station in nearby La Trinidad, Benguet being used by the city’s hauler as a staging area prior to transport of residual waste to the Capas landfill,  was reportedly indirect retaliation to non-exemption of vegetable truckers from the truck ban.
 “The reports that we received should serve as an eye-opener to our local legislators to immediately act on numerous pending requests for exemption from the coverage of the truck ban because we initially found merit in their requests,” Domogan said. 
He said provincial and municipal officials of Benguet must not take drastic actions on the issue because these can create more problems if they will proceed in passing their own truck ban ordinance as will surely derail the growth of the local economy.
He said he already found a loophole in the city’s new truck ban ordinance when it was implemented that is why he was constrained to issue an unconfirmed administrative order as a stopgap measure but he was misunderstood by some local legislators who branded the said order as an executive amendment to the ordinance.
Under the city’s truck ban ordinance, heavy trucks shall not be allowed to travel along major city roads from 6 a.m. to 9 a.m. and 4 p.m. to 9 p.m. daily.
Domogan said he was waiting for action of the city council on how to temporarily ease the burden of truckers before making his own move so there will be a combined executive and legislative action on the matter to prevent allegations that he is already stepping on the shoes of local legislators which he does not want to happen.
Following this, the city council committee on public utilities, traffic and transport legislation will recommend to the local legislative body a temporary relief of truckers from the full implementation of the city’s new truck ban ordinance while it is working on the proposed amendments to the provisions of Ordinance No. 05, series of 2017.           
The measure will be submitted by the committee to the local legislative body during its regular session on July 3 to provide the necessary relief to truckers ferrying perishable goods from the farms to the markets in Metro Manila and other lowland areas.
 During the public hearing on the proposed amendments to the assailed truck ban ordinance last Tuesday, concerned truckers in the city and other parts of Benguet pressed the local legislative body to provide the appropriate temporary relief for certain truckers from the implementation of the truck ban so that there will be an uninterrupted delivery of goods from the farms to the markets.
  Vegetable truckers asserted the need for them to be granted total exemption from the coverage of the truck ban considering that they are catching up certain time slots in the Metro Manila area, particularly the night market in Pasig City that starts at around 11 pm daily, and the schedule of the vessels leaving for the Visayas and Mindanao areas.
 While the truckers respect the right of the city government to regulate the entry of trucks so as not to contribute to traffic congestions, officials of vegetable truckers groups claimed in Metro Manila, concerned government agencies and local governments granted them exemption from the coverage of their truck ban by providing them food lane stickers recognizing the importance of the delivery of perishable goods to the markets on time, and Baguio City can also be lenient on the said matter.
 Representatives of gasoline dealers in the city also clamored for exemption from the coverage of the truck ban because the delayed delivery of oil products to the city will definitely affect the stability of the gasoline and diesel supply in the city plus the fact that they do not have a hand in dictating the schedule when to have their delivery trucks filled up in their depot in Poro Point, San Fernando, La Union.
 Lawyer Eduardo M. Aratas, head of Philex Mining Corporation’s legal and administrative division, said the truck ban should not be totally implemented to their trucks ferrying mine ore concentrate from their Padcal mine site to their storage area in Poro Point because of their round-the-clock operations and there will be times that their trucks will be in the city during the truck ban times.
Aratas argued the company is catching up in its export commitments and there will be times their trucks will be caught in the truck ban, thus, they are requesting for exemption too from the city considering the contribution of the mining industry to the growth of the city’s economy through the years.
Some sectors also proposed for the reduction of the truck ban time from 6 a.m. to 9 a.m. to 6 a.m. to 8 a.m. and from 4 p.m. to 9 p.m. to 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. -- Dexter A. See


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