• MMDA out to slap charges vs. striking Cavite buses

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    THE Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) is set to file charges against Cavite-bound public utility buses (PUBs) that went on strike on Tuesday morning.

    MMDA Assistant General for Operations Emerson Carlos said that those who participated in the strike will be slapped with refusal to convey and abandonment of route charges before the Land Transportation Franchising Regulatory Board (LTFRB).

    This after the MMDA received reports from Southwest Interim Provincial Terminal (Swipt) Director Amante Salvador that Cavite-bound PUBs staged a strike, which is a violation of their franchise.

    According to MMDA Chairman Francis Tolentino, at least 20 percent of the total number of PUBs in Cavite joined the protest action against the operation of the integrated bus terminal.

    Tolentino said among those that participated in the strike were Erjohn, Don Aldrin, and Edmond bus lines.

    Salvador told Tolentino that some PUBs, which opted not to join the strike, were blocked by several protesting bus drivers and operators in Imus and Bacoor in Cavite province.

    “It is unfortunate that several misguided bus operators are resorting to unlawful actions and creating chaos to protest the operation of the Southwest Interim Provincial Terminal [Swipt],” said Tolentino.

    He added that the striking bus operators are liable to the public and to the LTFRB since bus operations is imbued with public interest.

    But Ferdinand Wakay, legal counsel for the United Bus Transport Inc. denied that the group went on strike.

    He explained that there were only delays in the trips of some PUBs because they were caught in a heavy traffic caused by the celebration of fiestas in Tanza and Dasmariñas both in Cavite.

    Wakay stressed that PUB operators are resorting only to legal remedies as they questioned the abrupt cut on their route caused by the operation of Swipt.

    “They are not resorting into extra legal moves. In fact we filed our petitions before the LTFRB questioning the route cut and opposing the fare reduction,” he added.

    Meanwhile, a group of consumers on Tuesday launched its own campaign to gather one million signatures, which aims to convince President Benigno Aquino 3rd that it is still premature to build a centralized bus terminal system in Metro Manila.

    The petition, which is being actively pursued by the Coalition of Filipino Consumers, seeks to ask Aquino to suspend indefinitely the implementation of an administrative order, which seeks to centralize bus terminal operations in Metro Manila.

    Jason Luna, convenor of the consumer coalition of five urban poor groups, expressed belief that government should first build and improve the intra and inter city public transport system.

    “Without the proper system in place, commuters will be the ones who will be at the receiving end of this plan because they will have to shoulder additional fare costs and are made to walk long distances exposed to the elements,” he added.

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