Family feud

By: Modesto P. Sa-onoy

THE disagreements within the family and heirs of the late Ricardo Yanson remind me of the television program “Family Feud” that focused on the competition that is healthy and entertaining. But the feud in the Yanson family is creating an image that is a theme for a novel though as yet we don’t know how the story will end. Will it be a tragedy or a happy ending?

The conflict reaches the Bacolodnons in the US as controversies of this nature are the stuff that makes for a good discussion, especially on matters of wealth sharing. That is unfortunate but now inevitable as a topic that includes harking back in time, like how the transportation company rose into near monopoly and in many instances, indifference and arrogance by management.

From a view, the issue is a family dispute and therefore none of other people’s business although matters of this nature are topics that tempt people to go beyond a decent discussion. But that is how the lives of the rich and the powerful are seen by the public.

The fact is that the problem is a corporate conflict for control of the Vallacar Transit Corporation and ought to be nobody’s concern. But the company’s business is imbued with the public interest and therefore is a matter of public interest. Ceres Liner has become the major means of transportation for thousands of people that move each day and stoppage of its operation means stranding people and disrupting business and even government functions.

The dispute, however, is not easy to resolve. The attempt of RTC Judge Eduardo Sayson to mediate was rejected by the group headed by Olivia Yanson, the matriarch of the family when it refused to accept the invitation of the judge for a meeting. That should have been an important step towards healing but the rejection of the effort of Judge Sayson indicates that the conflict is deeper than a matter of business. Or maybe the refusal for an amicable solution was suggested by their lawyers as a sign of weakness.

No matter, that was a chance for agreement lost so that the public can expect more of this “scandal in the family” thing that augurs nothing good for all – the family and the public.

Some see the conflict as the beginning of the collapse of the corporation, an end that many competing transportation businesses want to happen. The court case can drain the corporation of a fortune that surely the lawyers of both sides would be too happy to receive. Vital business decisions will be opened or subjected to lots of challenges and even more legal action against the incumbent management in the event the ousted group returns to control of the transportation empire.

The news that came out appears already to indicate malfeasance in the management of the millions that daily pour into the company’s coffers. The charges and counter-charges of “illegal” withdrawals of money seem to be incomprehensible to the public, for are they not all sufficiently provided? A wit would probably say that as far as money is concerned, there is no bottom line as there is no upper limit.

Be that as it may, the indication after that first hearing points to a long fight for company control. Both parties have dug trenches for a protracted fight, not just in court but in the public mind. The press releases from both camps open more wounds that the unsympathetic public loves to savor and uses as a topic for several assumptions, some of which cannot be legally printed or talked about.

The family feud can continue as long as it takes or the family can finally find a common ground for a happy ending. In the meantime, the public can only hope that the transport operation remains undisturbed under the new management.

The intrusion of the employees and their union into the fray does nothing good; this is a corporate power play. That the former board is generous does not mean that the new board will be a Scrooge. Perhaps it can even be better. What they should do is to perform their paid task well and let the new management prove it is better.

Indeed, if some employees do not like the new management they can always resign but they should not jeopardize the resolution of this purely corporate disagreement by taking sides.