Provincial bus operators asked the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging and Infectious Diseases to rescind a resolution requiring bus firms to use the three designated central terminals in their operations to the provinces.
Lawyer Vincent Rondaris, president of the Nagkakaisang Samahan ng mga Nangangasiwa ng Panlalawigang Bus ng Pilipinas, in a letter dated Dec. 7, 2021 but made available to media Wednesday, urged the IATF to allow bus operators to use their private terminals in Metro Manila, instead of the designated centralized terminals.
The IATF issued Resolution 101 on Feb. 26, 2021, requiring provincial buses to load and unload passengers on designated integrated terminals, including the Sta. Rosa Integrated Terminal in Sta. Rosa, Laguna and the Paranaque Integrated Terminal Exchange in Paranaque City for provincial buses plying the southern and southwestern routes, and the North Luzon Exchange Terminal in Bocaue, Bulacan, which is adjacent to the Iglesia Ni Cristo-owned Philippine Arena for buses plying the northern Luzon routes.
Under the IATF resolution, buses based in Metro Manila but bound for the provinces are required to use the integrated terminals to serve as its central hub for public transport and are prohibited to use their private terminals.
Rondaris said the forcible use of the integrated terminals spawned what he described “percicious consequences.”
He said the resolution triggered the use of unfranchised vehicles like private vans and cars, or the so-called “colorum” vehicles, including the unfranchised ones that “do not follow loading capacity, charge unconscionable fares, and fail to comply with minimum health standards.”
“In effect, colorum vans become unmonitored superspreaders of the virus,” Rondaris said.
He said the use of central hubs also “created an unfair situation” for passengers bound to northern provinces because unlike the PITX, which is in Paranaque City, the NLET is Bocaue, Bulacan, or 30 kilometers from Metro Manila, resulting in inconvenience for passengers, who have to go first to Bocaue and get a tricycle ride.
“Based on our surveys, passengers prefer the starting and end point to be within Metro Manila. Consequently, they vehemently object to the NLET as it adds to their cost of travel and inconvenience of transferring cargo,” Rondaris said.
“Some provincial bus operators have already disregarded your resolution and have loaded and unloaded their passengers in their private terminals here in Metro Manila. Under LTFRB regulations, these are considered out-of-line operations or colorum and subject to a hefty fine of P1,000,000 with possible suspension or revocation of franchise,” Rondaris said.
“Despite these stringent restrictions and prohibitive penalties, these operators have continued to defy the resolution. What is unbearable is that there have been no apprehensions or visible attempt to control the situation. There is clear evidence to prove that this is indeed happening,” he said.
Rondaris urged the IATF to enforce its resolution, saying: “In the midst of the pandemic, discipline and compliance are paramount. We need to be more serious in implementing and enforcing protective measures.”
He said the operations of bus firms remained suspended for almost two years, yet they have to pay their taxes, fees for renewal of their business registrations and permits, insurance premiums and workers’ compensation.
“We are imploring the IATF to modify the resolution and allow our buses to bypass the NLET and other unconnected ITXs and proceed to private terminals here in Metro Manila,” Rondaris said.