The Supreme Court on Tuesday ordered the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority to file its comment on three petitions assailing the legality of its controversial policy banning provincial buses on EDSA.
During its en banc session, the SC resolved to consolidate the petitions filed by AKO Bicol party-list group Reps. Ronald Ang and Alfredo Garbin Jr., Albay Rep. Joey Sarte Salceda and Bayan Muna party-list last April 29, May 27 and June 7, respectively, and require MMDA to submit an answer.
The SC gave the respondents led by MMDA Chairman Danilo Lim and the Metro Manila Council composed of mayors of cities and municipalities in the National Capital Region 10 days to comply with the order and submit their comment.
However, the high court deferred ruling on the petitioners’ plea for issuance of a temporary restraining order or writ of preliminary injunction immediately stopping the implementation of MMDA’s Regulation No. 19-002.
The petitions seek to strike down the assailed measure, which the MMDA and the Metro Manila Council took to ease traffic in Metro Manila’s main thoroughfare, for violating the 1987 Constitution and existing laws.
They cited the lack of “consultations with the public regarding the issue and should have heard the sides of the owners, bus operators, and especially the passengers that will be greatly affected with the implementation of the said regulation.”
The petitioners also alleged that the regulation that had affected thousands of passengers from the provinces was void from the beginning and should have not taken effect simply because it is an exercise of police power that the MMDA and MMC do not possess.
According to them, police power is a legislative act, which means the ban on provincial buses and closure of bus terminals along EDSA necessitated enactment of ordinances by individual local government units that have police power under the Local Government Code of 1991.
They also argued that the regulation was an invalid exercise of such authority as it is not reasonably necessary to achieve the purpose of solving perennial traffic problems in the metropolis.
They cited the annual average daily traffic in 2017, which showed that an average of 367,738 vehicles traverse EDSA daily, with 67 percent or 247,527 of these vehicles being private motor vehicles (with 60 percent—70 percent or an average of 148,516 to 185,645 private motor vehicles per day are single occupancy vehicles) while city buses, plying along EDSA with an average of 12,000 units daily and only around 3,300 provincial buses.
Petitioners further argued that the planned closure of provincial bus terminals would violate Public Service Act and related laws that require public utility operators to maintain their own terminals as requisite for their franchises.
They also told the Court that the MMDA ban on provincial buses on EDSA was an unwarranted encroachment of the authority of the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board to issue, amend and revoke certificates of public convenience to public utility vehicles.
In seeking for issuance of TRO, they cited clear and irreparable damages of the assailed ban not only to petitioners and their constituents but to thousands of affected commuters as well.