The Supreme Court has dismissed on technicality the three petitions that assailed the constitutionality of a controversial Metro Manila Development Authority’s regulation banning provincial buses from plying along Epifanio delos Santos Avenue, a traffic-clogged major highway in the metropolis.
In a resolution released on Friday, the SC junked for violation of hierarchy of courts the three petitions, saying the case involved determination of facts and presentation of evidence on the procedures undertaken by the MMDA in issuing the regulation.
The three petitions were filed by Ronald Ang and Alfredo Garbin Jr. of AKO Bicol Party-List, Albay’s Joey Salceda, and Bayan Muna chairman Neri Colmenares and House members identified with the Makabayan Bloc.
The three petitions claimed that MMDA "exceeded its powers" when it issued the regulation "because it does not possess legislative nor police powers."
The SC ruled that the petitions should have been filed before the proper regional trial court or the Court of Appeals which also has jurisdiction to issue writs of certiorari.
Certiorari “is a special civil action brought by an aggrieved party against a tribunal, board or officer exercising judicial or quasi-judicial functions to determine whether it has acted without or in excess of jurisdiction, and there is no appeal or any plain, speedy, and adequate remedy in the ordinary course of law for the purpose of annulling or modifying the proceedings of such tribunal… granting such relief as law and justice may require.”
Earlier, MMDA had said that Regulation 19-002 was aimed at easing traffic along EDSA, a traffic-clogged main thoroughfare that traverses several cities, and eventually within Metro Manila.
The regulation moves the loading and unloading zones of the provincial buses 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.
It also mandates local government units to revoke or stop the issuance of business permits to provincial bus operators for their terminals along EDSA.
Colmenares’ group said that Republic Act 7924 (An Act Creating the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority) "did not grant the MMDA with police power, nor legislative power, and that all of MMDA’s functions are administrative in nature."
The petition stressed that the regulation "fails the test of a valid police power measure."
AKO Bicol, on the other hand, said the issuance of the regulation is tantamount to an exercise of police power which the MMDA and the Metro Manila Council do not possess.
“There is no single word or syllables in the MMDA law that grants MMDA police power, let alone legislative power. Even respondent MMC has not been delegated any legislative power,” the party-list group stressed.
It pointed out that provincial buses are not the main cause of traffic congestion along EDSA but city buses and private motor vehicles.
Salceda argued the SC that the MMDA regulation, in effect, prohibits the issuance or revokes all permits granted to provincial bus operators to maintain bus terminals and operate their units along EDSA.
Salceda said the regulation was “anti-poor” since only provincial commuters would be affected.
Citing MMDA’s 2007 figures, Salceda said there are 3,300 provincial buses, 12,000 city buses and more than 247,000 private vehicles that pass along EDSA daily.
"Why pick on residents from the provinces to solve Metro Manila’s traffic," he lamented.
At the same time, the three petitions pointed out that there were no public consultations before the MMDA regulation was issued.
“For the record, there was no single public hearing conducted by respondents MMC and MMDA prior to the regulation’s intended implementation…,” the petitions stated.