Signature drive vs centralized bus terminal scheme launched
A campaign to gather one million signatures against the government’s plan to centralize bus terminal operations in Metro Manila was launched on Wednesday by a group of consumer advocates.
Members of the Coalition of Filipino Consumers (CFC) set up booths at Uniwide Coastal Mall and Baclaran Church in Parañaque City in line with their drive dubbed “The Cry of 1 Million Filipino Commuters.”
The signatures gathered will be attached to a petition addressed to President Benigno Aquino III, urging him to suspend the implementation of Administrative Order No. 40 signed by Executive Secretary Paquito Ochoa Jr.
The order directs government agencies, including the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA), to establish interim bus terminals in Metro Manila to ease traffic on major roads, particularly Edsa, by limiting the entry of provincial buses.
The first one, the P24-million Southwest Integrated Transport Terminal, opened at Uniwide Coastal Mall last month. Since then, buses coming from Batangas and Cavite provinces can only ply their routes up to the terminal in Parañaque City, forcing commuters to take other rides to get to their destination.
The two other terminals will soon open near Trinoma mall in Quezon City and in Alabang, Muntinlupa City.
The CFC said its members would march to Malacañang and present their petition to Mr. Aquino after 20 days.
It added that in the next days, volunteers of the group would go around the metropolis, particularly the area of Cubao, Cainta and Trinoma mall on North Avenue, to gather signatures. They will also visit nearby provinces such as Pampanga and Laguna to feel the people’s pulse on the centralized bus terminal system.
Jason Luna, convenor of the CFC, an umbrella organization of five urban poor groups, said that commuters continue to suffer from the effects of the plan, especially those who use the Southwest Central bus terminal on Coastal Road.
According to him, the MMDA continues to mismanage dispatching operations, leading to heavy traffic in the area.
Buses wait in the terminal for an average of two hours and commuters complain of not reaching their destination in time as they have to transfer to other public utility vehicles, he added.
He also criticized MMDA Chair Francis Tolentino for focusing on the beautification of the terminal instead of addressing the plight of passengers.
“We, the commuters, do not need cosmetic changes in the Southwest bus terminal. Tolentino just wants to hide the legitimate grievances of commuters, even of poor bus drivers whose families are now suffering since this terminal scheme was launched a month ago,” he said.
He added: “We are suffering every single day and this administration does not feel our pain. We pay extra fares just because of this scheme. We are affected by a more serious traffic gridlock because more vehicles flock to this terminal the entire day. And we feel the suffering of mothers, old men, kids and the disabled who have to walk long distances from the embarkation area to the place where they will [get a ride going to] Manila.”
“We appeal to the President. Stop this foolish scheme and please be very attentive to the plight of the suffering masses. Order MMDA to restudy [its] plan and while doing so, revert to the old system which is more comfortable for commuters,” Luna said.