CH to Capitol: Explain terminals’ lack of biz permits

THREAT. According to a Capitol consultant, the Cebu City Government is threatening to shut down the Cebu North Bus Terminal at the back of SM City Cebu (left) and the Cebu South Bus Terminal along N. Bacalso Ave. for operating without a business permit. The Province, which runs both terminals, maintains that it operates the facilities as a public service for passengers going to the province and vice versa. /
THREAT. According to a Capitol consultant, the Cebu City Government is threatening to shut down the Cebu North Bus Terminal at the back of SM City Cebu (left) and the Cebu South Bus Terminal along N. Bacalso Ave. for operating without a business permit. The Province, which runs both terminals, maintains that it operates the facilities as a public service for passengers going to the province and vice versa. / AMPER CAMPAÑA

THE Cebu City Government ordered the management of the Cebu South Bus Terminal (CSBT) and the Cebu North Bus Terminal (CNBT) to explain why the two facilities are operating without a “business registration,” or else face closure.

But the Cebu Provincial Government, which operates and manages the terminals, questioned the validity of the two show cause orders that the Business Processing and Licensing Office (BPLO), under the Office of the City Mayor, issued on Friday, May 3, 2024.

It said the two terminals are not operating as commercial entities.

The Province was given 72 hours to reply upon receipt of the orders.

The the CSBT is located on N. Bacalso Ave., while the CNBT is located at the back of SM City Cebu.

In a press conference on Monday, May 6, Provincial Legal Officer Donato Villa and Capitol’s legal consultant Rory Jon Sepulveda said the terminals operate as a public service that cater to all passengers going in and out of Cebu City and the province of Cebu.

Sepulveda said both facilities were created as components of the Metro Cebu Development Project (MCDP) back in the 1990s.

The MCDP’s objectives included the construction and improvement of arterial roads, the improvement of the traffic management system, and the construction of a bus terminal to reduce traffic congestion and thereby promote economic activities in Metro Cebu.

The Provincial Government took over management of the CSBT in February 1993. Operation and management of the CNBT were transferred to the Province in 2021 after the Mandaue City Government and a cooperative did not renew their contract to manage the terminal.

Sepulveda said the Cebu City Council passed City Ordinance 1724 in August 1999, requiring buses to load and unload passengers at the CSBT.

Villa, for his part, cited Section 133 of the Local Government Code of 1991, which limits the taxing powers of any local government unit (LGU) in the collection of taxes, fees and charges when it comes to other LGUs and government agencies.

Not applicable

“What they put in the show cause order is a tax from a tax ordinance. It’s not applicable here. The City can’t collect tax from the Province’s bus terminals,” he said in Cebuano, referring to the Revised Omnibus Tax Ordinance of the City of Cebu.

“Second, let’s look at the city ordinance and how it defines business. Supposedly a business is a commercial activity engaged as a means of livelihood,” he said in a mix of Cebuano and English.

Villa explained that the CSBT and the CNBT are not engaged in commercial activities, as the facilities are intended as a public service that caters to passengers from the province to the city and vice versa.

In terms of gain or profit, Villa pointed out that the Province only collects fees from stakeholders in each terminal for the maintenance and operating expenses of the facilities.

He said the Province has transformed the CSBT into a modern terminal, including the installation of air-conditioning units for the comfort of waiting passengers.

Sepulveda said that if the City insists on implementing the show cause orders, this will disrupt the terminals’ operations and affect an estimated 15,000 daily passengers.

He said they required all concessionaires operating inside the bus terminals to secure a business permit from the Cebu City Government.

He said the Province does not want a repeat of the incident at the Cebu Port Authority last April in which the City “forcibly” entered the baseport to cordon off a port expansion project.

Capitol’s warning

“Maong ipaklaro namo daan, walay grounds ang inyong notice (That’s why we want to make things clear that your notice has no grounds). First, we are not a business. And second, if ever we are a business, we are not subject to any local government taxation of the City of Cebu. This is not even our project, this is a collaborative project of the National Government and three cities (Metro Cebu),” Sepulveda said.

He warned that the Provincial Government is ready to respond accordingly to ensure the operation of both terminals, if ever the City insists on their closure despite explanations.

SunStar Cebu reached out to BPLO officer-in-charge Andrew Borres on Monday, but to no avail.

In a phone interview on Monday, City Administrator Colin Rosell said all commercial establishments operating within Cebu City are required to secure a business permit.

However, he said exemptions can be granted depending on the situation and in congruence with existing laws and regulation

This applies to government agencies with programs or projects with potential proprietary aspect, he said.

Rosell urged the Province to reply to the show cause orders to clarify the matter. / EHP

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