"We are, after all, a government of laws and not of men."
With revenues from e-commerce in the country posting phenomenal growth in recent years—P44 trillion in 2018, up from P36 trillion in 2017—and Filipino consumers benefiting in terms of convenience and lower prices of goods as the biggest online stores often offer discounts, you would think that both sellers and buyers are happy, and the domestic economy flourishes as well.
Well, not everyone is glad over the convenience that online shopping brings.
Buhay Party-List Rep. Lito Atienza is incensed that the biggest online stores in the country are using unlicensed courier services for delivery of goods being ordered online. He has filed House Resolution No. 481 urging his colleagues to look into freight and forwarding services operating in the country which have no license and are therefore unregulated.
Atienza wants to summon representatives from the top online stores to ask why they use courier services like Ninja Express PH or NinjaVan and J&T Express that are said to operate without any license from the Department of Information and Communication Technology.
“We will call them when the investigation on my House resolution on this big-time colorum courier services starts,” he said.
The lawmaker pointed out that three courier firms, namely NinjaVan, J&T Express and Entrego Philippines, aren't small operators but big-time players since they employ thousands of motorists to deliver goods all over the country.
“I thought before these companies are small-fry but when I was told that they at least have 5,000 motor vehicles operating under their name, they are no longer small enterprises but big-time colorum,” he said, adding that aside from lacking the proper licenses, these are fully foreign-owned companies which violate the 60-40 rule on ownership of public service, convenience, and logistics companies as mandated by the 1987 Constitution.
DICT Undersecretary Eliseo Rio has confirmed that these companies are indeed operating without a license from the DICT since they are not among the companies that are listed in the list of accredited courier services in the agency's website. He said they have already issued warnings to traditional and online merchants against dealing with unlicensed couriers since they will fully be responsible for any loss or problems in the delivery of services. “We already issued the warnings. All they have to do is go to the DICT website to see the companies that are accredited,” he pointed out.
According to the DICT, the only couriers licensed to operate nationwide are: 2Go Express, Inc.; Go21, Inc.; Intertraffic Transport Corp.; JRS Business Corporation; LBC Express, Inc.; Quickreliable Courier Services, Inc.; Wide Wide World Express Corporation; and Xytron International, Inc.
Atienza emphasized that courier services used to be regulated by the Department of Trade and Industry but this function has already been transferred to DICT under its Postal Regulations Division.
With the recent boom in e-commerce, many courier services have sprouted because they can make quick profits. E-couriers are now estimated to be worth P36 billion.
The lawmaker wants the House to conduct a full-dress investigation of the unlicensed courier services for the protection of the government, consumers and their employees as well.
“The government doesn’t get any benefit from these couriers because they are not licensed. They don’t pay taxes. The consumers have no protection. The employees of these colorum employees also don’t have protection in case something happens to them during delivery. We want these companies to be held accountable and responsible,” Atienza said.
The Filipino delivery firm JRS Express, which has been in existence for the past 59 years, earlier raised concern over the proliferation of unlicensed couriers which it said have significantly cornered a big share of the market from the legitimate freight companies. The “colorum” players allegedly ignore industry standards, as well as standard operating procedures, which could prove detrimental to the industry in the long run.
This, from where we sit, is an issue affecting public interest and the government, particularly the DICT, has to do whatever is necessary to protect small and legitimate players in the courier industry and to safeguard the welfare of Filipino consumers.
We are, after all, a government of laws and not of men, and this requires everyone to follow the rules. As the eminent jurist Oliver Wendell Holmes once wrote: "The standards of the law are standards of general application. The law takes no account of the infinite varieties of temperament, intellect or education which make the internal characters of a given act so different in different men. It does not attempt to see men as God sees them, for more than one sufficient reason."