SC dismisses 'procedurally infirm' petition vs PUV modernization

SC dismisses ‘procedurally infirm’ petition vs PUV modernization

/ 06:52 PM March 06, 2024

MANILA, Philippines — The Supreme Court dismissed a petition filed by a group of jeepney drivers and operators challenging the constitutionality of a provision in the controversial public utility vehicle modernization program, saying the petition was “procedurally infirm.”

In a 20-page decision made public Wednesday, the SC said transport group Bayyo Association Incorporated and its president Anselmo Perweg do not have legal standing and violated the hierarchy of courts.

“The Court finds that the petitioners do not possess the requisite legal standing to file this suit,” read the SC decision penned by Associate Justice Maria Filomena Singh.


The SC said at the outset, Bayyo did not submit any proof to support its claim that it is a legitimate association of PUJ operators and drivers.


“While it attached a Certificate of Registration issued by the SEC, the same merely proves its registration as an association but does not establish that its members are indeed PUJ operators and drivers,” the SC said.

The SC added: “Accordingly, due to the absence of Bayyo’s Articles of Incorporation and By-Laws or any other competent proof, the Court cannot ascertain its legal standing as an association of PUJ operators and drivers. Even if such were not the case, Bayyo still failed to establish who its members are and that it has been duly authorized by said members to institute the Petition.”

Citing the case of Provincial Bus Operators Assn. of the Phils. v. DOLE, the SC explained that it was not enough to simply state that they are an association representing a certain sector, but they should establish who their members are and that their members authorized them to sue on their behalf.

Also, aside from a lack of legal standing, the SC said the group disregarded the doctrine of hierarchy of courts — meaning it should have exhausted all available options at the lower courts before going to the SC.

Regarding Perweg’s claim that they filed the case as a citizen and taxpayer, the SC said taxpayers’ suits can only claim that if it is predicated on an allegation that public funds are illegally disbursed.

“Here, the petitioners cannot invoke standing as taxpayers, considering that paragraph 5.2 of DO No. 2017-011 does not involve the disbursement of public funds. More glaringly, a closer examination of the Petition reveals that there is no allegation of any illegal expenditure of public funds. Thus, the case cannot qualify as a taxpayer’s suit,” the SC said.


The petitioners asked the SC to nullify paragraph 5.2 of DoTr Order 2017-11, which states that PUV drivers must shift to using brand new and “environmentally friendly” units under the modernization program of public utility vehicles.

They said the order is not only discriminatory for traditional jeepneys but also confiscatory in nature.

However, the SC said their argument would be better threshed out before the lower courts because they are not a trier of facts.

“These factual issues should have been first brought before the proper trial courts or the Court of Appeals, both of which are specially equipped to try and resolve factual questions,” the SC said.

“It is well to remember that the Court is not a trier of facts. Whether in its original or appellate jurisdiction, this Court is not equipped to receive and weigh evidence in the first instance. When litigants bypass the hierarchy of courts, the facts they claim before the Court are incomplete and disputed.

“Bypassing the judicial hierarchy requires more than just raising issues of transcendental importance. Without first resolving the factual disputes, it will remain unclear if there was a direct injury, or if there was factual concreteness and adversariness to enable this Court to determine the parties’ rights and obligations,” it added.

READ: SC orders DOTr, LTFRB to respond to petition vs PUV modernization

Another petition was filed before the SC by militant transport group PISTON and its allied organization in December 2023 which also questioned the PUV consolidation and modernization program.

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The SC has yet to rule on the petition.

TAGS: PUV modernization, Supreme Court

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