MMDA bus scheme divides Cavite polsBy Maricar Cinco, Niña Calleja |Inquirer Southern Luzon, Philippine Daily Inquirer
Has the issue on the newly established Southwest Interim Transport Terminal (SITT) gone political?
Cavite Gov. Juanito Victor “Jonvic” Remulla on Thursday continued to express his dismay over the design of the new bus terminal in Parañaque City which was part of a Malacañang-ordered scheme to limit provincial buses to the outskirts of Metro Manila. The P24-million SITT was built for buses coming from Cavite and Batangas provinces.
Echoing complaints of inconvenienced passengers, Remulla said the plan for bus hub opened on Aug. 6 at Coastal Mall was “not well thought out” by Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) Chair Francis Tolentino.
Remulla said one-way travel from Cavite to Manila was “now one hour longer and costs P10 more.”
“That may seem nothing to him (Tolentino) because he is rich, but to students who only have enough for their fare, that’s (expensive),” Remulla said in a phone interview.
The terminal located at the mall’s parking lot is also too small to accommodate 400 buses (the MMDA earlier said it could serve around 900 buses daily) and had only a single portable toilet for hundreds of passengers, according to the governor.
He gave an unsolicited suggestion to move the terminal to Baclaran which he said was more accessible to LRT and MRT stations.
Around 50,000 students and workers from Cavite travel by bus every day to Manila, Remulla said.
The governor and the mayors of Cavite earlier this week announced that they were taking public transportation to Manila as a form of protest against the new traffic scheme. This alignment of forces appears to contradict the MMDA’s July 31 press statement that the new system had earned the support of Cavite mayors.
The planned protest action, however, was postponed as the mayors had to attend to constituents affected by Typhoon “Labuyo.”
The Cavite governor said he was speaking out “in the interest” of commuters and bus operators and that it had nothing to do with politics.
But reached for comment, Tolentino said Remulla’s criticisms were just that—“politically motivated.”
“I was the one who filed a petition in the LTFRB (Land Transportation and Franchising Regulatory Board) to lower the fares (for Cavite buses),” Tolentino said in a text message.
He was referring to the petition that he and several other Cavite residents filed seeking an eight-percent fare cut for provincial buses that use the new terminal, shortly after SITT opened.
In a statement Thursday, the agency said the new system also had the backing of five out of Cavite’s seven congressional representatives.
The five lawmakers were Rep. Francis Gerald Abaya (1st District), Rep. Alex Advincula (3rd District); Rep. Elpidio Barzaga (4th District); Rep. Roy Loyola (5th District); and Rep. Abraham Tolentino (7th District).
In a resolution, they expressed their full support to the operation of the terminal and integrated transport system, which they said were reflective of the needs of Metro Manila in solving traffic congestion.
“We fully support the continued implementation and operation of the first established Interim Transport Terminal, the Southwest Terminal,” they said as they assured MMDA that they would also help explain the benefits of the program to the public.
The governor’s brothers, Gilbert and Jesus Crispin “Boying” Remulla, both lost to Abraham “Bambol” Tolentino and his wife Agnes, in the May elections for Cavite’s 7th district representative and mayor of Tagaytay City, respectively.
Bambol is the brother of the MMDA chair. The Tolentinos have been in power in Tagaytay City for decades.