WE received a call from a friend regarding our last column on the lack of mass transportation in the metropolis up to now.
The aforementioned friend brought out the prevalence of “colorum” vehicles, which ferry passengers to and from remote locations outside of the city limits that are not serviced by the public transportation system.
Some of these “colorum” vehicles are owned by similarly enterprising drivers who were able to make enough money to cover the down payment on their own vehicles, while the majority are operated by many enterprising businesses.
“When unsuspecting commuters use these “colorum” vehicles as a convenient and affordable means to get to work and make it back to their homes on schedule, how can you stop their proliferation?”, added my friend.
According to him, the majority of these “colorums” have been upgraded to big-time coaches like the spacious and incredibly comfortable Grandias, Urvans, and Starias. Yes, he claimed that the comfort and convenience of using these “colorum” vehicles simply outweigh the government transportation agency’s claim that they are “dangerous” to commuters because they are illegally operating, lack a license to serve as public transportation, and their respective commuters are not covered by insurance in the event of an accident.
Since the unfortunate commuters have no choice but to travel in these “colorum” vehicles in order to get to their separate offices and back home, we wholeheartedly concur with our friend’s viewpoint. Because of the inadequate public transportation system that has plagued numerous previous governments, they are without any other options.
By the way, significant news involving the Department of Justice’s legal position regarding the “colorum” vehicles that continue to operate around the metro and engage in cat-and-mouse games with various law enforcement organizations has recently come to light.
This is crucial because the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB), a government entity, has no business seizing, imprisoning, and destroying these “colorum” cars. In its legal opinion, released late last month, the DOJ declared unequivocally that “LTFRB has no competence to arrest, impound, and dispose of ‘colorum’ automobiles. Only in the coordination [and] cooperation with other government agencies in the seizure, impoundment, and destruction of such vehicles does it have any additional power.
Under Section 4(5) of Republic Act 4136, also known as the Land Transportation and Traffic Code, and Section 35(b)(8) of Republic Act 6975, also known as the Department of the Interior and Local Government Act of 1990, only the Land Transportation Office (LTO) and the Traffic Management Unit of the Philippine National Police (PNP) are permitted to enforce traffic rules and regulations, claims the DOJ.
According to the DOJ, “even without the power to enforce the provisions of EO No. 202, the LTFRB may still coordinate and cooperate with these government agencies to enforce the provision of the aforementioned issuance and other related laws.
The problem began when two transportation cooperatives—the National Federation Transport Cooperative and Liga ng Transportasyon and Operators sa Pilipinas—visited the Department of Transportation in March 2022 to inquire about the authority of the LTFRB to pursue these “colorum” vehicles. The matter was sent to the DOJ for a legal assessment by the then-secretary, Art Tugade.