Senate probe into provincial bus ban set for August 13

MANILA, Philippines – Senator Grace Poe set a hearing on the controversial provincial bus ban to get an explanation from traffic management agencies after the gridlock along EDSA this week.

In a statement on Thursday, August 8, Poe said that the Senate committee on public services, which she chairs, will conduct a probe on Tuesday, August 13.

"Matinding kalbaryo na naman ang nararanasan ng ating mga kababayang dumadaan sa EDSA. Maniningil tayo ng paliwanag at hindi natin palalagpasin ang kailangang managot sa kaguluhang ito," Poe said.

(Our fellow Filipinos passing through EDSA are again experiencing another great burden. We will demand an explanation and we will not let whoever is responsible for this mess get off easy.)

Dubbed "anti-poor" by commuters and advocates, the ban prohibits provincial buses from loading and unloading along EDSA from 4 am to 10 pm. It aims to close down bus terminals along the highway, requiring buses to use integrated terminals on the outskirts of Metro Manila.

The ban, which was not based on any scientific study, is "seen to reduce" the number of vehicles using EDSA. But public utility buses comprise only 3% of the total traffic, while private cars take up 67% of road space.

"Bakit ginagawa tayong parang science project? Puro eksperimento, habang taumbayan naman ang nagdurusa. Kung nagpatupad ng polisiya, bakit kalunos-lunos ang paglala ng trapik?" Poe said.

(Why are we being treated like a science project? They keep on experimenting, while commuters suffer. If a good policy was implemented, why did traffic worsen horribly?)

Even as a Quezon City court stopped the implementation of the ban, the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) continued with a "voluntary" dry run on Wednesday, August 7. (READ: EXPLAINER: What is the provincial bus ban?)

The heavy traffic this week was reportedly caused by confusion among MMDA traffic enforcers, who implemented the provincial bus ban even for city buses.

MMDA Spokesperson Celine Pialago told reporters on Thursday that the dry run of the bus ban will continue.

"We don't need to scrap the voluntary dry run of the provincial bus ban because we were not given enough chance to prove the effectiveness of the policy in the first place," Pialago said. –

Aika Rey

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