MMDA cracks down on errant bus firms
The Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) on Thursday began going after bus firms whose franchises were ordered cancelled or suspended for six months by the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB).
According to Yves Gonzalez, MMDA Traffic Discipline Office chief, MMDA Chair Francis Tolentino had ordered him to flag down the buses sanctioned by the transport board.
The other day, the LTFRB permanently cancelled the franchises issued to 129 buses owned by Philippine Corinthian Liner.
On the other hand, it suspended for six months the franchise of 15 other bus companies—Admiral Transport (54 buses), Angelito Chang (10), Don Mariano Transit Corp. (57), Arabia Boy (34), Jacinto Torres (29), Luzon Bus (36), Ma-Fel Transit (15), Mannrose Liner (30), Margarito Penalosa (18), Nova Auto Transit (76), Panda Transit (10), Rovall Transit (68), Gil 5000 Inc. (75), Voyager Express (11) and Wendell Littad (22).
The penalties were meted out after the buses were found to have participated in last year’s transport strike in Metro Manila which left hundreds of commuters stranded. The mass action was aimed at protesting the government’s decision to include public utility vehicles in the number coding scheme.
Although the LTFRB said the sanctions would take effect immediately, the buses may still file a motion for reconsideration.
For his part, Tolentino said they would go after the buses on the list unless their operators could present a document to prove that they have filed an appeal.
Meanwhile, transportation party-list 1-United Transport Koalisyon, said that it would question the transport board’s decision before the Supreme Court, adding that operators were being unfairly penalized for exercising rights protected by the Constitution.
“There is no law prohibiting public transport operators from going on strike,” said Vigor Mendoza, who used to represent the group in Congress.
Asked for comment, Transport Secretary Manuel “Mar” Roxas II said he would meet with top LTFRB officials to discuss the matter. “I will get updates from [Chair] Jaime Jacob,” he said.
“No one wants a strike to ever happen. But we will not sit down and have our rights trampled upon,” Mendoza said.
He also pointed out the Nov. 15 strike was a “driver-initiated” protest and should not be blamed on operators.
“It was a driver-led strike but operators are being penalized. There is no evidence to show the operators held the strike,” Mendoza said, adding that the day before the mass action, bus companies met with Tolentino and agreed to call off the protests.
“Unfortunately, that decision never reached the drivers so they pushed through with the strike,” he added.
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