Court stops planned implementation of EDSA provincial bus ban

By Eimor Santos, CNN Philippines

The highly contested provincial bus ban on Metro Manila’s main road – Epifanio de los Santos Avenue (EDSA) – won’t be implemented as scheduled because of an order by a local court.

The Quezon City Regional Trial Court Branch 223 has granted the petition of a number of bus companies for a writ of preliminary injunction on the scheme.

The 25-page order, signed Wednesday and released on Friday also gave the Office of the Solicitor General until August 14 to file a response. The government’s top lawyer represents the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) and the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) whose orders were challenged.

The court said “there was abuse in the issuance” of the LTFRB memorandum circular that prohibits provincial buses on EDSA, and of the MMDA regulation revoking the business permits of all provincial bus terminals along the busy thoroughfare.

These measures would have “far-reaching effects” on businesses and their employees, the court said. It added it does not see any just reason for the ban as it does not find “substantial distinction” between provincial buses and premium point-to-point (P2P) buses, which were not covered by the prohibition.

MMDA Spokesperson Celine Pialago could not immediately react to the court’s decision pending consultation with lawyers. “But of course we will follow what the court says,” she said in a statement.

The Department of Transportation said it is now discussing the matter with the Office of the Solicitor General.

There are also pending petitions at the Supreme Court for a temporary restraining order against the long-delayed bus ban.

Netizens and lawmakers have widely opposed the traffic scheme, which seeks to prohibit all provincial buses from picking up and dropping off passengers along EDSA.

Under the proposal, buses from northern Luzon should drop off all passengers at a terminal in Valenzuela City, while commuters from the south will have to alight at a terminal in Sta. Rosa, Laguna, or in Parañaque City. From there, they will have to take a different bus or car to reach Manila.

The MMDA staged a dry run for the bus ban on April 21 but called it off two weeks later to iron out the details on guidelines for the operation.

The court’s order preempts what could have been a dry run on August 7. Transport officials earlier targeted the ban to take effect August 2.

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