Senate calls for suspension of driver-only car ban on EDSA

MANILA, Philippines (4th UPDATE) – The Senate on Wednesday, August 15, voted unanimously to adopt a resolution calling on the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) to recall and suspend the driver-only car ban on EDSA.

In a resolution issued on the first day of the new rule's dry run, the Senate called on the MMDA to "conduct a public consultation" and to study the ban first.

"[We] strongly urge the Metro Manila Council to recall MMDA Regulation No. 18-005 'Establishing the Expanded High Occupancy Vehicle Lanes in EDSA,' and for MMDA to immediately suspend the implementation thereof," the resolution said.

Senate President Vicente Sotto III ordered the Senate Secretary to transmit a copy of the resolution to the MMDA.

The senators also called on the Metro Manila Council and the MMDA "to conduct public consultations, further study the 'driver-only' ban, and provide for real solutions to Metro Manila traffic congestion."

The resolution was introduced by Senate President Vicento Sotto III, Senate President Pro Tempore Ralph Recto, Minority  Leader Franklin Drilon, and Majority Leader Juan Miguel Zubiri.

The ban sought to prohibit vehicles that only contain the driver inside along EDSA during rush hours. The MMDA eyed for a full implementation of the measure on August 23.

Reacting to the Senate resolution and to other critics of the new policy, MMDA General Manager Jojo Garcia said on Wednesday that anyone can question the rule in court and the MMDA will "let the courts decide who is right."

Former urban poor chief Terry Ridon, convenor of Infrawatch PH, urged the MMDA to heed the Senate call.

“If the MMDA knows what is best for them and the public, we most respectfully urge them to relent,” Ridon said.

Ridon earlier raised concerns on due process violations in the implementation of the new rule without holding public hearings and consultations beforehand.

“We are elated that the Senate has supported our position that forcing the HOV scheme on the public violates due process requirements. We nonetheless should provide the MMDA the opportunity to adjust their policy accordingly in order to avoid further controversy,” he said.

On the first day of the dry run, MMDA apprehended more than 3,000 vehicles as of posting.

On August 7, the Metro Manila Council approved the measure to reduce traffic congestion in the capital region.

Senator Grace Poe earlier cautioned the MMDA against the "hasty implementation" of the scheme. Senator Leila de Lima also warned traffic officials of "passengers-for-hire" that may take advantage of the policy.

In 2017, there were 367,738 vehicles that ply EDSA daily, 60% to 70% of which are single-occupancy vehicles. MMDA argue that the policy will reduce total vehicles in EDSA by 40% during rush hours. – 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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Camille Elemia

Camille Elemia is a multimedia reporter focusing on media, technology, and disinformation.

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