THE ban on buses enforced by the government of Manila this week is illegal and aggrieved bus firms can challenge it in court, the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) said on Thursday.
LTFRB Executive Director Roberto Cabrera 3rd said the confusion among motorists and commuters brought about by the Manila’s new traffic scheme maybe questioned in court because a city ordinance cannot override franchises issued by the Board.
Cabrera said a local government cannot impose a “total ban” on buses, especially since the LTFRB and bus firms were not properly consulted.
He said the legal team of LTFRB is studying how to address the concerns of bus operators who were advised to take legal action since the agency does not have the power to order the Manila government to stop implementing its ordinance on buses.
Commuter groups and bus operators have appealed to City Hall to defer the implementation of Resolution No. 1, unanimously passed by the City Council last July 16 and which took effect last Tuesday.
The ordinance bans city and provincial buses without existing terminals from entering Manila.
Provincial buses with private terminals in the city are exempted but they cannot unload passengers along the road. Manila Vice Mayor and city traffic czar Isko Moreno said violators of the ban will be fined by as much as P500.
While the move had improved traffic flow in the city’s major roads, it also left many commuters inconvenienced and several bus operators fuming.
Whoever thought of this did not care about commuters’ welfare. This ia another burden for ordinary people like me,” Crisanto Jumadas, a commuter told The Manila Times at the Welcome Rotunda, the boundary of Quezon City and Manila.
“Wala ngang trapik. Wala namang masakyan [There is no traffic but there is nothing to ride],” he added.
Members of South Luzon Bus Operators Associations of the Philippines (Soluboa) on Thursday said they had filed their opposition to the ordinance.
Soluboa President Homer Mercado said the group believes Manila Mayor Joseph Estrada would reconsider implementation of the city resolution once he reads their position paper.
Mercado also admitted that his group failed to submit their position paper when the City Hall invited them for consultations last week.
Meanwhile, a lawmaker has expressed willingness to look into a proposal seeking to transfer the authority of the LTFRB to issue public utility vehicles franchises to the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) for vehicles operating in Metro Manila.
Senate president pro-tempore Ralph Recto noted the since it is the MMDA that is in charge of managing the traffic in Metro Manila it is only proper for the agency to have control over the number of passenger vehicles allowed to operate in the region.
Recto said “something is not right” with the present set up because there is no way for an agency like the MMDA to effectively rid Metro Manila of illegal vehicles since it has no idea which PUVs are legitimate and which are not.
The LTFRB is attached to the Department of Transportation and Communication (DOTC) and issues franchises to all kinds of PUVs from passenger buses to school services.
It is also responsible for promulgating, administering, enforcing, and monitoring compliance of policies, laws, and regulations of public land transportation services.
However, the LTFRB has no police powers which means that the agency only depends on the Land Transportation Office (LTO), MMDA and other deputized units in going after PUVs that committed franchise violations.