THE Senate inquiry into the provincial bus ban in Metro Manila would be more productive and useful if it desists from confusing 1) the work of policymaking or lawmaking, which is principally a function of the legislature, with 2) the work of setting administrative rules and regulations, which is principally a function of the executive branch and its agencies.
While finding fault with the decision of the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) to implement a provincial bus ban along EDSA, Sen. Mary Grace Poe, chairman of the Senate public services committee, lectured MMDA executives that “the bus ban is not a substitute for rational, consulted and evidence-based policymaking.”
Policymaking? This is quite a mouthful. Since when did managing the traffic in the metropolis become a matter for national policymaking? Why is the Senate poking its nose into matters that have to do with solutions and measures to improve traffic flow?
Is the Senate public services committee envisioning a law to manage the traffic in our national capital, or specifically EDSA?
Secondly, the Senate inquiry would be more productive if it inquires into the ownership of the various provincial bus companies that enter or operate in Metro Manila.
It has been known for some time by the public that many of these companies are owned or partly owned by lawmakers, senators and representatives both.
With lawmakers owning these bus companies, it has been difficult for the MMDA to regulate their operations in the metropolis. This was partly the reason why it took such a long time for metro authorities to finally expel the buses from their terminals along EDSA.
It is possible that the current plan to control the entry of provincial buses into Metro Manila will be stymied in the Senate or the House by the interference of lawmakers who are transport entrepreneurs.
We think Senator Poe and her colleagues in the public services committee should not stop themselves from asking inquisitively about the ownership of the bus companies, regardless of who they are. This is a list that deserves to be made.
Exposure of the names to public scrutiny and study will be constructive. The question is, Will Senator Poe ask the question during the Senate inquiry? Is she curious at all?
There is a real possibility that transport entrepreneurs in Congress will seek to block or enfeeble the provincial bus ban. This will clearly be inimical to the public interest.
We believe the provincial bus ban scheme of the MMDA deserves a fair and thorough public hearing by the Senate. It should be studied and discussed by experts in public forums in the media.
The nation has yearned vainly for decades for an effective response to the constantly worsening traffic in the nation’s capital region.
Many measures have been tried, but they all failed to do the job as the urban population kept expanding and business grew by leaps and bounds.
Now the complete banning of provincial buses from EDSA is being proposed by the MMDA.
Will this scheme succeed?
Is it fair to the bus companies and thousands of their workers and the riding public? All should be heard on the issue.
It is eminently worthy to find the answers to these questions.
The final test for the bus ban will be its effectiveness.
If the ban is found to be workable and potentially effective, the MMDA should be free to go to town to implement it.
The public will approve. The Senate should give it its blessing.