A pro-administration lawmaker on Thursday sought a congressional inquiry into the move by the Metro Manila Development Authority to ban provincial buses from traversing Epifanio delos Santos Avenue, calling it “anti-poor and anti-small business.”
Deputy Speaker Luis Raymund Villafuerte of Camarines Sur made a joint appeal to the MMDA to do away with this plan, pending final action by the Supreme Court on separate petitions against this measure to ease traffic along the capital region’s main highway.
MMDA is set to carry out a dry run of the provincial bus ban on Aug 7, despite pending petitions against it before the Supreme Court.
“The ban is facing complaints from thousands of commuters as the move would be cumbersome, costly, and time-consuming for passengers who usually carry with them heavy pieces of luggage when traveling to Metro Manila and back to their provinces,” Villafuerte said in his House Resolution 165 seeking a House inquiry into the upcoming MMDA provincial bus ban on EDSA
He said only the concerned local government units can implement the ban because Republic Act (RA) 7924, the law creating the MMDA, did not grant the body with police or legislative powers
Villafuerte, who represents the 2nd district of CamSur, said the ban will not ease the traffic congestion on EDSA, considering that MMDA’s 2007 figures show that only 3,300 provincial buses pass through this road compared to the 12,000 city buses and more than 247,000private vehicles that traverse it daily.
By 2017, public utility buses comprised only 3 percent of the total traffic, as private cars took up 67 percent of road space, MMDA data show.
Today, there are about 8,000 provincial buses or two-thirds of the 12,000 registered public utility buses that will be affected by the ban, Villafuerte said.
In HR 165, Villafuerte urged the House committee on transportation “to conduct an inquiry, in aid of legislation, on the implementation of the provincial bus ban on EDSA.”
Under MMDA Regulation Number 19-002, the loading and unloading zones of the provincial buses will be moved to the integrated terminal in Sta. Rosa in Laguna for those coming from the south, and to the terminal in Valenzuela City for those from the north. Those with terminals in Pasay City will use the Parañaque Integrated Terminal Exchange (PITX).
The MMDAregulation also mandates LGUs to revoke or stop the issuance of business permits to provincial bus operators for their terminals along EDSA.
“Pending final action by the High Tribunal on the separate petitions seeking a halt to this highly controversial plan, we are appealing to the MMDA to hold off on this EDSA bus ban and, in the meantime, study alternative measures to decongest traffic along EDSA and other major roads across the national capital,”Villafuerte said.
“I support the petition for review and prohibition filed by my fellow probinsiyano and Bicolano, Albay Rep. Joey Salceda before the Supreme Court that seeks to stop the implementation of the provincial bus ban on EDSA,” Villafuerte said. “The governor [Migz Villafuerte] and I also have tens of thousands of fellow Bicolanos in our province who will be adversely affected by this proposed ban.”
Villafuerte said small entrepreneurs who rely on provincial buses to transport their goods to Metro Manila will suffer, and if given no choice, would be forced to ride more expensive travel options such as taxicabs or Grab cars to be able to pass through EDSA to reach their final destinations in the metropolis.
Villafuerte and his governor-son agreed with Salceda that the MMDA will overstep its legal authority and disregard the franchises issued by the LTFRB to affected provincial buses and the lease agreements between bus operators and terminal owners, once MMDA implements on Aug. 6 or 7 a dry run of this ban despite strident public opposition.
Meanwhile, Metro Manila police director Guillermo Eleazar on Thursday led the demolition of a community police assistance center in Malabon City as part of the government’s campaign to reclaim and clear public spaces of all obstructions to ease traffic.
The dismantling of Police Community Precinct 4-Assistance Center situated along M.H. DelPilar Street near corner Mejo Rada Street in Barangay Tinajeros was the second police-owned structure to be demolished in Metro Manila in connection with the ongoing nationwide campaign.
Eleazar and Mayor Francis Zamora earlier initiated the demolition of a police community precinct which was erected on sidewalk in West Crame in San Juan City.