SC junks anti-provincial bus ban petitions; orders MMDA to justify policy
MANILA, Philippines — The Supreme Court has dismissed the three petitions that challenged the legality of the Metro Manila Development Authority (MMDA) policy that would ban provincial buses on Edsa.
In a resolution made public Friday, the high court junked the petitions on a technicality saying the appeals involved queries that should be referred to the Court of Appeals or proper trial court.
One of these queries includes a presentation of evidence on how MMDA came up with the policy such as presentation of verified data or statistics on how such a course of action could ease traffic congestion in the National Capital Region.
“These factual questions require reception of evidence and/or hearing which must be relegated to the Court of Appeals or to the proper trial court,” read the Supreme Court’s resolution.
MMDA Regulation No. 19-002 was issued in a bid to address worsening gridlock on Edsa – the 23.8-kilometer main highway that traverses several cities of Metro Manila.
The policy aims to restrict provincial buses at the integrated terminals in Sta. Rosa, Laguna, in the south, and in Valenzuela City in the north. This means that provincial buses could no longer pick-up or drop-off passengers anywhere along Edsa.
It also orders local government units to revoke issued permits or stop the issuance of new business permits to provincial bus operators for their terminals along Edsa.
The dismissed petitions were filed by AKO Bicol Party-List Representatives Ronald Ang and Alfredo Garbin Jr., and Albay Rep. Joey Salceda, as well as Bayan Muna chair Neri Colmenares and Makabayan bloc lawmakers.
The three petitions argued that MMDA “exceeded its powers” when it issued Regulation No. 19-002 “because it does not possess legislative nor police powers.”
“There is no single word or syllables in the MMDA law that grants MMDA police power, let alone legislative power. Even respondent [Metro Manila Council] has not been delegated any legislative power,” the AKO Bicol party-list petition stated.
It also pointed out that provincial buses are not the main cause of traffic congestion along Edsa but city buses and private motor vehicles.
For his part, Salceda told the SC that MMDA’s policy in effect prohibits the issuance or revokes all permits granted to provincial bus operators to maintain bus terminals and operate their units along Edsa.
Salceda likewise said the regulation is “anti-poor” since only provincial commuters would be affected.
Citing MMDA’s 2007 figures, Salceda further said there are 3,300 provincial buses, 12,000 city buses, and more than 247,000 private vehicles that pass along Edsa daily.
The petitioners added that MMDA did not conduct public consultations before they issued the regulation.
On July 31, 2019, Quezon City Regional Trial Court Branch 223 stopped the implementation of the ban on provincial buses with a ruling that the policy has “far-reaching effects.”
Edited by KGA
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