IN apparent response to rising furor over a Manila ordinance that runs roughshod on trenchant national laws, vice governor and provincial council presiding officer Jolo Revilla of Cavite mustered less than a challenge—unlike hundreds of workers and students poised to stage a protest rally to dramatize their rage over the ban.
This, as he led the provincial council to pass a resolution seeking to defer enforcement of the bus ban plied out by Manila and the Metro Manila Development Authority (MMDA) supposedly to ease the traffic congestion in the metropolis.
Revilla said that Provincial Council Resolution 050-S-2013 seeks to defer for 60 days the full implementation of the Integrated Transport System (ITS) project prohibiting entry of provincial buses to Metro Manila in a bid to arrest traffic congestion.
Too, hundreds of students enrolled in different universities and colleges in Metro Manila are about to mount protest rallies against MMDA.
Carlito Reverizo, a student in a Catholic university in Manila: “I will always be late because I have to commute by bus from Cavite to a bus terminal in Coastal Road, Parañaque City. Then I have to walk to Baclaran to ride a jeepney going to España Avenue in Manila. That consumes too much time and additional fare money before I reach my school.”
Revilla noted that, the Manila bus ban is being opposed by thousands of commuters and major transportation providers from Cavite because there is no sufficient public consultation and more adverse effects will result.
Under the scheme, buses from Cavite will be compelled to end their trip at the terminal in Uniwide Mall in Coastal Road, Parañaque City. Also, drivers will not be allowed on the road unless they go through a process of identification consisting of fingerprinting and other biometrics, which human rights advocates suspect as possible spying and misuse of data gathered from innocent people.
The vice governor said that as an elected official, it is his duty to follow Section 16 (General Welfare Clause) of Republic Act 7160, which mandates every local government to exercise its powers for the promotion of the general welfare of its constituents.
Revilla added that prior to the approval of the provincial council resolution, the affected parties like the transportation providers of Cavite and various sectors of the commuting public were consulted by the council.
During a session of the provincial council, Ding Wakay of the Cavite Bus Operators Association (one of the major transport groups in the province) asked the provincial government to request MMDA to conduct more public consultations to thresh out the adverse effects of a bus scheme to the riding public, especially students and low salary workers.
No to terminal
Passengers who are coming from the provinces are not in favor of the central terminal for provincial buses located at the outskirts of Metro Manila.
According to Elvira Medina, national president of National Commuter Council for Public Safety (NCCPS) they conducted a survey to know the sentiments of the riding public on the government’s central terminal system.
She said the survey showed that 91 percent of the respondents coming from the Northern and Southern Luzon are not in favor while only nine percent supports it.
“Nobody is against development but make sure that impact is not so severe on the part of the commuters,” she added.
About 1,270 respondents were asked the question, “Are you in favor of the government’s plan of establishing central terminal for Laguna, Quezon and others in Taguig while Batangas and Cavite at the Mall of Asia in Pasay?”
The group furnished the survey result to Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) chairman Francis Tolentino during a consultation in Makati City.
Medina said that based on the survey, majority of the respondents find the integrated bus terminal to be put up at the outskirts of Metro Manila, “inconvenient and more costly.”
“Commuters need to shell out more money because they need to ride more than one bus,” Medina told reporters.
Besides additional fare, Elvira said this will also give inconvenience to the commuters as they need more time to travel.
“They have to alight at the terminal, walk a little and transfer to another passenger bus to reach their destination in Metro Manila,” she added.
Medina lamented that no study was presented in order to substantiate the program.
“The creation of the central terminal system will affect the lives of the commuters and therefore, it is necessary that programs that will be undertaken must be substantiated by tedious and reliable studies,” said Medina.
The other nine percent, the survey said, are in favor of the terminal, because it will unclog EDSA and there is nothing they can do if the government likes do it.
Because of this, the group called on the government to build a reliable and efficient mass transportation system first before establishing the central terminal.