MANILA – A party-list group has asked the Supreme Court (SC) to stop the implementation of the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority’s (MMDA) ban on provincial bus terminals along EDSA set to take effect in June this year.
In a 44-page petition filed on Monday, AKO Bicol Party-list asked the high court to immediately issue a temporary restraining order (TRO) or a writ of preliminary injunction against the implementation of MMDA Regulation No. 19-002.
The group also asked SC to nullify the regulation, which prohibited and revoked the issuance of business permits to all terminals and operators of public utility buses and vehicles along EDSA on the ground that their entry to and departure from their respective terminals allegedly contribute to traffic congestion.
The party-list group is represented by its chair Aderma Angelie Alcazar. Its representatives, Ronald Ang and Alfredo Garbin, Jr., also joined as petitioners in their individual capacities.
Aside from the MMDA, also named as respondents are the Metro Manila Council (MMC), which approved the MMDA regulation, represented by the mayors of Metro Manila’s 16 cities and the municipality of Pateros; and the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB).
AKO Bicol said the MMDA and the MMC have no authority to implement the ban as they were not authorized under the law to enact ordinances or approve resolutions, which are acts of police power that only the individual local government units can exercise.
It also claimed the measure had neither legal nor scientific bases because it was crafted solely based on a “mere verbal directive” from President Rodrigo Duterte during a Cabinet meeting in October 2018.
It pointed out that only a small portion of the vehicles that ply EDSA on a daily basis are provincial buses: In 2017, 2/3 of more than 360,000 vehicles are private motor vehicles mostly occupied by single drivers, 12,000 are city buses while only 3,300 are provincial buses.
“Hindi rin naman makatarungan na ‘yung napakakaunting numero ng provincial buses na sinasakyan ng mas nakakaliit sa atin, ‘yun ang kanilang pinag-iinitan,” Ang told reporters shortly after the filing of the petition.
(It is not just that the few provincial buses used by the poor is being singled out.)
AKO Bicol said their constituents who regularly travel from Bicol to Manila are among those who stand to be greatly inconvenienced by the measure.
“Hahaba po ‘yung travel time ng mga tao. Pangalawa, mas magiging magastos po ‘yan,” Ang explained.
(People's travel time will be longer. Second, it will be more expensive.)
The group questioned the lack of consultation and public hearing before implementing the regulation, claiming the right to due process of commuters was violated.
“Wala pa pong paliwanag ang MMDA sa kanilang plano. Kailangan po nilang magpaliwanag kung paano ba nila gustong gawin ng mga tao,” Ang said.
(The MMDA offered no explanation for their plan. They have to explain what they want to do to the people.)
“This entails movement of people. When you move people, you have to tell them what to do. Hindi ho pwedeng basta d’yan ka na lang (You cannot tell them to simply stay put),” he explained.
The group also said the measure was contrary to the Public Service Act which requires bus operators to maintain their own terminals as a requirement for the franchise, and encroached upon the LTFRB’s authority to issue, amend and revoke certificates of public convenience to public utility vehicles.
Ang said they have introduced a House resolution opposing the MMDA measure and have written a letter to the President to express their sentiments.
This is not the first time the government had tried to remove bus terminals along EDSA.
In 2003, then-President and now-House Speaker Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo issued an executive order eliminating bus terminals along EDSA to ease traffic congestion.
But the high court, in 2007, struck it down as unconstitutional in the case of MMDA v. Viron Transportation Co., Inc., saying there are “less intrusive measures” that “might even be more effective in easing the traffic situation.”
AKO Bicol is relying on this case to convince the Court to rule in its favor.