Quezon City court halts EDSA provincial bus ban

MANILA, Philippines – The Quezon City Regional Trial Court (RTC) Branch 223 has issued a preliminary injunction stopping the implementation of the controversial provincial bus ban.

In its 25-page July 31 decision, the Quezon City RTC Branch 223 found just cause on the petition filed by provincial bus operators against the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) and the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB), saying that the bus ban has "far-reaching effects."

"The closure of the plaintiffs' terminals has far-reaching effects. It would affect not only their respective business, but their respective contracts with others as well…. The shortened routes would likewise affect the salary of the plaintiff's employees," Presiding Judge Caridad Walse Lutero said in the decision, a copy of which was obtained by Rappler .

Lutero said that MMDA and LTFRB have "not been able to present sufficient justification" for the issuances that enabled the implementation of the bus ban.

"There is no reason to consider these issuances to have priority over the plaintiffs' rights as well as those who would suffer from their implementation," Lutero said.

The Quezon City court allowed the Office of the Solicitor General, which represents the government in the case, to file for a motion for reconsideration. Lutero gave a final extension of August 14 for the government to reply to the decision.

The provincial bus operators argued, among others, that the affected buses "actually generate less traffic in Metro Manila."

In March, the Metro Manila Council – the governing and policy-making body of the MMDA – approved Regulation No. 19-002 that aims to close down all 47 provincial bus terminals along EDSA. Along this, the traffic agency prohibited provincial buses to load and unload passengers along EDSA.

This was supplemented by a new LTFRB policy, Memorandum Circular No. 2019-031, which amended the routes of provincial buses to end at cities of Valenzuela, Parañaque, and Sta Rosa in Laguna.

MMDA spokesperson Celine Pialago on Friday, August 2, said that they have yet to consult their legal counsel.

"Hingi pa tayo opinion sa mga lawyers. (We will still ask the opinion of the lawyers.) But of course, we will follow what the court says," Pialago told reporters.

The MMDA was supposed to conduct a dry run implementation on August 7, banning the vehicles from plying through EDSA from 4 am to 10 pm.

Bicol lawmakers had filed petitions before the Supreme Court to stop the implementation of the policy, arguing it was "utterly oppressive and unfair."

Experts said that the ban runs contrary to its goal of reducing traffic congestion in EDSA, as it may result in longer travel time, heavier traffic, as well as extra fares. – Rappler.com

Aika Rey

Aika Rey covers the Philippine Senate for Rappler. Before writing about politicians, she covered budget, labor, and transportation issues.

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