An advocacy group has called on the government to revoke the franchise and business licenses of a popular logistics firm and its partners for alleged rampant violation of the National Postal Service Law.
The United Filipino Consumers and Commuters (UFCC) on Thursday filed a case at the Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT) seeking the revocation of the operating licenses of J&T and its franchise partners due to alleged unlawful business practices.
“Because of the nature and the gravity of the violations and they’re so widespread, the punishment cannot be less than revocation. Dapat revocation na ng license to,” said former congressman and UFCC national advisor Jonathan Dela Cruz.
The UFCC is an advocacy group that protects consumer rights and acts as an intermediary between the government and the public by pushing for policy and regulatory reforms. As part of this advocacy, they closely monitor the activities of the different logistics providers amid mounting complaints from consumers and sellers.
“We call on President Bongbong Marcos to look into these rampant irregularities and anomalies purportedly being committed by J&T and their partners,” Dela Cruz said.
The UFCC charged that J&T undermines the DICT’s efforts in regulating postal delivery service, and threatens the growth and stability of the Philippine digital economy which is a crucial sector for the country’s economic recovery plans.
“Considering how pervasive J&T’s services are nationwide, its numerous violations against the Postal Service Act and other laws are sufficient grounds to revoke its ‘Authority to Operate Express and/or Messenger Delivery Service’ license,” Dela Cruz said.
“We are not singling out J&T. However, most of the complaints that our office has received are about them,” he added.
In its letter sent to the DICT, the UFCC urged the agency to investigate the operations of J&T and its franchise partners that continue to conduct business without franchise permits, specifically the ones located in Manila, Quezon City, and Caloocan.
“Without the proper legal accreditation, consumers are at the mercy of these businesses. They have no recourse if their packages are mishandled and identifying the perpetrators will be difficult because of the lack of publicly accessible documents,” Dela Cruz said.
Last year, President Duterte called for an investigation of the J&T by the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) and the Philippine National Police Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (PNP-CIDG). The Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) was also called to inspect the delivery firm’s finances.
However, the company continues to conduct business without any improvement in their operations, as evidenced by widespread consumer complaints.
The charges included mishandling of parcels resulting in damaged goods, contrabands found in J&T property, missing deliveries, overcharging clients with excessive delivery fees, misuse of private customer information, and unfair work policies.
In 2020, the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency confiscated some twelve 12 kilos or P81.6 million worth of suspected methamphetamine hydrochloride or shabu, a prohibited drug, in a warehouse owned by J&T.
“Up to now we have been gathering a lot of complaints. Lalo nga sumama ang kanilang operations eh. Sila-sila rin mismo sa organisasyon nila naglolokohan,” Dela Cruz said.
Last June, the workers’ union United Rank and File Employees of J&T Express (URFE) declared a strike calling for better labor conditions and payment of overtime pay and health benefits, among others. They cited unpaid overtime and diminution of allowances for long trips and when they get stranded during delivery, as well as forced labor.
“Dapat nilang bayaran pa rin ang workers. And we will help them. Kawawa nga sila, sila nga ang frontliners pero they’re not given their due,” said Dela Cruz.
Senator Risa Hontiveros had previously urged the Department of Labor and Employment to issue guidelines addressing unethical terms of employment and labor standards that will better protect and promote the welfare of delivery riders.
By 2025, parcels are expected to equal mail in volume. Improving the logistics and supply chain efforts will fast-track the country’s digitization efforts towards a digital economy.
“This is just the first of many efforts of the UFCC to help rehabilitate the country’s digital system. We hope to make this as one of our main advocacies as we progress into the digital economy,” Dela Cruz said.
He also said they will be closely watching the operations of other logistics providers to ensure that everyone is compliant with the law and to strengthen the industry.
“We focused on J&T because of their widespread and grave illegal acts. The complaints centered on the malpractices and fraud that have been imposed on their consumers, as well as the violation of labor laws they inflicted on their own work force,” Dela Cruz said.
“That is why we have asked DICT to revoke their licenses – not just of J&T but their franchise partners as well. They have been functioning in defiance of various laws. We need to have a disciplined logistics industry and ensure an environment of responsible and proper practices so our country can progress,” he added.