MANILA, Philippines – A Quezon City court has ordered the suspension of the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) plan to ban provincial buses from Epifanio de los Santos (Edsa) Avenue.
Quezon City Regional Trial Court Branch 223 Judge Caridad Walse-Lutero said in the 25-page decision that the ban, including the amended route of provincial buses, was an abuse of police powers by the MMDA and the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB).
Several provincial bus operators filed an appeal after the MMDA announced the proposal, saying their “livelihoods” would be deeply affected by the ban.
The bus ban proposal was developed to decongest traffic on the Metro Manila highway, infamous for its intense rush hour traffic jams. Aside from the Edsa ban, LTFRB Memorandum Circular No. 2019-31 also cites an amendment to the bus routes, which are to end on the outskirts of the metro.
“It would seem that the conclusion reached by the LTFRB that provincial buses are the main reason for the traffic is incorrect,” Lutero said, citing data from the LTFRB that buses only occupy a third of the space and private cars account for 72 percent of traffic.
“The closure of the plaintiff’s terminals has far-reaching effects. It would affect not only their respective businesses, but their respective contracts with others,” Lutero added.
“There is no reason to consider these issuances to have priority over the plaintiffs’ rights as well as those who would suffer from their implementation,” the judge said.
MMDA Head of Traffic Bong Nebrija expressed his frustration over the ruling, but assured that the agency will follow the court ruling.
“This is just so frustrating,” Nebrija said. “How can we know if a policy is right if we never try it out, if we always want to have it suspended?”
MMDA spokesperson Celine Pialago also said that they will continue to seek legal counsel in light of the suspension.
“Hingi pa tayo [ng] opinion sa mga laywer. (We will seek the opinion of our lawyers) But of course, we will follow what the court says,” Pialago said on Friday, August 2.
MMDA had set a test run of the ban on August 7, Wednesday. (HGBH/LMO)
Photo from Wikimedia Commons