The Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) on Wednesday dared Cavite bus operators to open their books to prove they were losing revenues after their units were barred from entering the metropolis.
MMDA Chairman Francis Tolentino issued the challenge as the agency prepares charges against bus operators who went on strike on Tuesday.
Tolentino said the operators called the strike to protest their loss of income and inadequate facilities at the Southwest Integrated Provincial Terminal (SWIPT) in Parañaque City.
The operators claimed their income has dropped since they were not allowed to ply inside Metro Manila after the opening of the terminal.
“They made it appear that they are losing revenues, which is not true. They better open their books to prove their claims,” Tolentino said.
He said he has evidence to prove that the bus firms’ operating expenses have dropped with the opening of the terminal.
He said that by using the terminal, bus companies were able to make four to five round trips compared to the previous three before the facility was opened.
In fact, Tolentino said, the firms saved on rental fees since they are using the SWIPT for free.
This is one of the reasons why the MMDA asked the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) for an eight percent or P2 fare rollback, he added.
If the bus operators were indeed on the verge of bankruptcy, Tolentino said they should relinquish the franchise.
As to the complaints of bus operators and the passengers about the terminal, he said the facility is a work in progress, citing the improvements they have done since it opened.
Ferdinand Wakay, lawyer for the United Bus Transport Inc., the umbrella organization of Cavite-bound buses, said what the operators are asking is for the MMDA to hear their side on how to improve the terminal’s operation.
Wakay said the complaints of bus drivers about dispatching delays as well as revenue losses cannot be easily dismissed.
He said Tolentino’s call for bus companies to open their books “irregular.”
“Legally, it is irregular and highly censurable for a government official to intrude in the management of private business,” Wakay said.
RITCHIE A. HORARIO