Lawmakers: LTFRB favors certain bus firms

By Paolo Romero, The Philippine Star

Posted at Aug 13 2014 02:50 AM | Updated as of Aug 13 2014 10:50 AM

MANILA, Philippines -The much-criticized "rationalization" policy of the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) is reportedly meant to favor several bus companies that have "colorum" units or ply routes outside areas allowed by their franchises, members of the independent bloc in the House of Representatives said yesterday.

Buhay party-list Rep. Lito Atienza and Abakada party-list Rep. Jonathan de la Cruz assailed LTFRB chairman Winston Ginez for issuing memorandum circulars (MC) 2014-009 and 2014-010 as part of the agency’s “rationalization” plan.

The first MC prohibits traffic law enforcers from apprehending colorum public utility buses while the latter allows PUBs to change their routes at will and pass through major roads of Metro Manila, they said.

Ginez faced lawmakers during a hearing on Monday conducted by the committee on Metro Manila development chaired by Quezon City Rep. Winston Castelo.

Dela Cruz said the LTFRB has no study to measure “route capacities” except perhaps the one plying EDSA from Monumento in Caloocan City to Baclaran in Pasay City.

He said under the MCs, bus companies who have “colorum” units or have no franchises at all will be given franchises, and will also be allowed to choose their own routes without any regard to their adverse impact on traffic and environment.

The MCs were issued only in consultation with bus companies, he said, and the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority and mayors were not consulted.

He said Ginez appears to be influenced by bus companies, particularly Solid North and JAC Liner. He said the two companies have been operating on “unclear” franchises and have been involved in numerous accidents.

Atienza scored Ginez for worsening the traffic congestion in Metro Manila despite several recommendations from local and international agencies.

He cited the studies conducted by the Japan International Cooperation Agency, the University of the Philippines National Center for Transportation Studies and The World Bank, which revealed that the number of buses on EDSA can be reduced by as much as 50 percent without sacrificing the needs of the public.

Ginez said the LTFRB is still studying the matter.

Valenzuela City Rep. Sherwin Gatchalian and Sen. Miriam Santiago had earlier questioned the legality of the circulars.