MANILA (UPDATE) – Former President and now Manila Mayor Joseph ‘Erap’ Estrada challenged those opposing the resolution that bans buses from entering the city to take their grievances to court.
The resolution, which states that city and provincial buses without existing terminals are barred from entering Manila, was met with criticism by bus operators and commuters, as well as the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB).
LTFRB Executive Director Roberto Cabrera said the resolution is illegal since it practically enforces a total ban of buses in the city.
Estrada refuted Cabrera's claim, saying it is within the local government's jurisdiction to regulate public transportation within its boundary.
“Hindi ko maintindihan bakit niya sinasabing illegal. Kung gusto niya, mag-file siya ng demanda sa korte para magkaharapan kami. Para sa amin wala kaming ginagawang iligal, kasi kung iligal ‘yun ay hindi kami susundin,” Estrada told dzMM’s “SRO” on Thursday.
Estrada defended the city resolution, saying it will be implemented despite complaints from bus operators and the LTFRB as long as the riding public reaps the benefits.
On its third day of implementation, the ban appeared to improve the traffic situation in the city, particularly along Lawton Avenue.
“Hindi nila kami mapapatigil…Nakikita namin na ito ay para sa ikabubuti ng maraming mga kababayan natin sa Maynila, at bilang Mayor ng Maynila, syempre pangangalagaan ko ‘yung mga kapakanan ng mga taga-Maynila,” he said.
Vice Mayor Isko Moreno, meanwhile, echoed the mayor’s sentiments.
“They are entitled to their opinion, pero what matters most is the general welfare of our citizens,” he also told dzMM.
Moreno clarified that the resolution aims to regulate the number of buses plying Manila routes, and not to totally ban their entry.
“Marami kaming mode of transportation dito at mayroon ding mga bus na nage-exist sa Maynila na may terminal. Talagang regulasyon lamang ang pinapairal namin sa kanila,” he said.
Moreno, who is also the city’s traffic czar, appealed for patience from commuters who may be affected by the resolution and advised them to adjust their travel schedule.
“Kami ay humihingi ng paumanhin sa mga mamamayan ng kapit-bayan namin, ipinasusuyo nalamang namin sa kanila, baka pwedeng magdagdag nalang sila ng 15 minuto o 30 minuto ang aga ng gising nila para makapag-adjust,” he said.
Quezon City traffic
Quezon City Mayor Herbert Bautista said he is open to the resolution because he understands that crowded Manila has smaller roads compared to Quezon City.
However, Bautista said he feels sorry for the commuters, particularly the senior citizens, who are forced to walk because of the limited bus stops.
“’Yung mga taongbayan na taga-Quezon City, Marikina, Rizal at Bulacan na bumabaybay at sumasakay ng bus, naaawa naman ako sa kanila,” he told dzMM in a separate interview.
He expressed concern that the Quezon City government was not consulted prior to the implementation of the ban, which he believes will affect not only Manila but its neighboring cities.
“Manila naman ‘yan, rules nila ‘yan. Pero ang pagtingin ko naman, ang traffic ng goods and services ay parang hangin ‘yan. Walang kinikilalang boundary ‘yan, parang tubig ‘yan na maghahanap ng daloy kung saan siya pwede lumusot,” he said.
He also raised doubts over the legality of the ban without the approval of the LTFRB.
“The only institution that can revoke, minimize or allow a franchise is the LTFRB. There’s a question of law eh. Sino nga ba ang masusunod, ang local government kasi may ordinansa siya o ang national law,” Bautista said.
“I think the former President just wants to test it first. Ako naman, sige let’s test it pero huwag naman pahirapan ‘yung mga commuters, lalo na ngayon na tag-ulan,” he added.
Because of Manila's resolution, buses barred from entering the city are forced to unload their passengers along Quezon Avenue and make a U-turn in Mabuhay Rotonda, thus causing heavy traffic along Quezon Avenue.
The Quezon City traffic department has laid out alternate routes to ease traffic along Quezon Avenue.
One of the routes will lead buses from Quezon Avenue to turn right to Mayon Street instead of going around Mabuhay Rotonda.
Buses can unload passengers in Mayon Street, go straight and turn right at Maria Clara Street, turn right again at Araneta Avenue, and make a U-turn toward Quezon Avenue until they reach Commonwealth Avenue.
Bautista said national and local officials, and stakeholders from the transportation sector should hold a traffic summit to discuss ways to solve Metro Manila's traffic woes. -- With a report from Pia Gutierrez, ABS-CBN News