Consumers seek TRO vs integrated bus terminalBy Jerome Aning
Philippine Daily Inquirer
A consumer group has questioned in the Supreme Court the legality of the government’s establishment of interim bus terminals to prevent the entry of provincial buses in Metro Manila.
In a 19-page petition for certiorari and prohibition filed last Friday, the Coalition of Filipino Consumers (CFC) through its lawyer Erikson Flores sought to declare as unconstitutional Executive Order No. 67 and Administrative Order No. 40 signed by President Aquino as well as Memorandum Circular No. 2013-004 issued by the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB), which were the bases of the Integrated Transport System (ITS).
The group’s petition, which was backed up by some 100,000 signatures of people opposed to the scheme, also sought the issuance of a temporary restraining order against the ITS and establishment of the first interim transport terminal in Parañaque City, the Southwest Integrated Provincial Terminal.
Named respondents in the suit were Executive Secretary Paquito Ochoa Jr., Transportation Secretary Joseph Emilio Abaya, Budget Secretary Florencio Abad, LTFRB Chair Winston Ginez and Metropolitan Manila Development Authority Chair Francis Tolentino.
In the petition, CFC secretary general Perfecto Jaime Tagalog said the orders were issued without public consultations and public hearing, thus violating commuters’ constitutional rights to due process and equal protection of laws.
Last August, the bus terminal was opened to passenger buses coming from Cavite and Batangas provinces, forcing thousands of commuters to transfer to other vehicles in order to get to their destinations in Metro Manila.
CFC said the scheme has resulted in additional financial burden on the part of the commuters as they have to shell out extra money from their pockets. The group compared the extra burden to a tax on the commuting public.
“Thus, the commuters had to transfer from one public utility vehicle to another in order to reach their destination in Metro Manila. Clearly, public respondents imposed upon the commuters a tax without issuing any notice and conducting consultation and public hearing,” the petitioner added.