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EDSA: Better Roads for the Prosperous

In the recent discussion regarding our country’s ceaselessly worsening traffic, one

controversial issue has been circulating the mass media since it was publicly released—the

provincial bus ban. Attempting to solve the number one dilemma of Epifanio Delos Santos Avenue

(EDSA), the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) has come up with its “best

solution” at the moment: prohibiting provincial buses in the area. According to the released memo

of the LTFRB, provincial buses going to Metro Manila will have to end at terminals in Valenzuela

City, Parañaque City and Sta. Rosa, Laguna; this will only take effect to a number of EDSA-based

terminals which were shut down by the local government units. This regulation “is a result of the

Metro Manila Council Regulation 19-002 revoking the business permits of all provincial public

utility bus terminals and operators along the metro’s main thoroughfare” (Cabico, 2019, para. 6).

On the one hand, executive director of the Provincial Bus Operators Association of the

Philippines, Alex Yague (2019), argues that the policy only give inconvenience to the commuters;

they were just forced to go to interim terminals because they were no longer allowed to get off

along EDSA. He also stated in Filipino that there was no evident reduction in traffic after following

such. Nonetheless, he clarified that as an operator, he believes that it would definitely make driving

in EDSA much easier but is certainly unhelpful to the commuters who have been in their old

transportation routines for a long time. Certainly, the main reason why the traffic condition was of

no better after the series of dry runs, is because the provincial buses aren’t the ones causing such;

it is rather the private cars; hence they must take measures imposed on so (Galian, 2019). Shown

in the MMDA’s 2007 figures is the information that proves the ban would “not ease the traffic

congestion on EDSA” because statistically speaking, “only 3,300 provincial buses pass through

this road compared to the 12,000 city buses and more than 247,000 private vehicles that traverse
it daily” (Villafuerte, 2019). According to the Department of Transportation (DOTr) assistant

secretary for commuters’ affairs, Elvira Medina (2019), before shutting down bus terminals from

EDSA and implementing the regulation, MMDA should have first considered the rising

transportation expenses—noting that such policy is basically economically unsuitable. She then

considered the ban as an “experimental policy”, having queries whether the MMDA conducted a

“more scientific investigation” beforehand, or not. The DOTr official also compared the

commuters to guinea pigs, with having to experience this kind of inconvenience. This view has

been agreed upon by the Albay Representative; Joey Salceda (2019) argued that the MMDA

abused its power of legal authority, that it came up with a policy without looking into important

aspects like economic disruption, expense and damages that this may cause, even in the short span

of its implementation. He also pointed out that this is basically an “oppressive order”, affecting

only the poor people and small businessmen from provinces—simply trying to carry their goods

to Manila and vice versa or coming all the way for some other personal agenda.

On the other hand, MMDA traffic czar defended the controversial policy. Edison Nebrija

(2019) contends that it was created and implemented to ensure that upon using the still-operating

bus terminals, the commuters’ safety will be prioritized; thus, its main goal is not necessarily the

reduction of the traffic on EDSA, as the point of Yague and Medina’s arguments was. Answering

Medina’s stand on the ban being an “experimental policy”, Nebrija stated that before any part of

the plan happens, they already made sure that every part of it was ready, and that they will certainly

be doing such phase by phase. He ended his response by uttering that he understands the sentiments

of the former party, however, it will not stop the full implementation of the policy.

There are several contradicting stands regarding this matter. Surely, more citizens of any

gender and age bracket are against the implementation of the unreasonable policy, over those who
patronize it. Others, including groups and organizations, even maintain through writing petitions

how the regulation is truly unjust. It is “very injurious to poor rural people in terms of additional

inconvenience, additional fare, additional time to destination and double loading” (Ako Bicol

party-list, 2019). “It is apparent that the public’s right to people-oriented national transport system

has been substantially and materially violated by the assailed MMDA Regulation,” (The

Makabayan, 2019). The bloc also pointed out the MMDA’s violation against the equal protection

rights because of its non-consultation to the would-be-affected part of the community. The

petitions of various national groups can be summarized to two main points: the MMDA picked on

residents from provinces to solve Metro Manila’s traffic and it, exceeding its powers “because it

does not possess legislative nor police powers” (Panaligan, 2019).

As for me, I do not think that the provincial bus ban policy will solve EDSA’s long-term

problem, the heavy traffic, nor will it be accepted and followed by every transportation corporation

nationwide. Should the MMDA, the LTFRB, the DOT, and the government at large really strive

to find a solution for the betterment of our country’s road conditions, it shall not and shall ever

give inconvenience to any part of the society. I believe that one of the many reasons why people

buy private vehicles, aside from having the means to, is that they choose to rather struggle in an

air-conditioned car by themselves or alongside with their families—instead of traveling with

hundreds of strangers, face to face, in a hot, overloaded tricycle, jeepney, bus, or train; they would

rather smell their car’s air freshener and emit their own smoke, instead of smelling others’; and

hear from their radios and playlists, instead of others’ stories and views on politics. Therefore,

rather than restricting the roads only to city buses and private vehicles, they shall provide hope to

the Filipinos by making our public transportation better and more accessible. May EDSA’s history
of unity remain, and not be replaced by the day-to-day struggles and sufferings of the Filipinos by

the unjust decisions of the privileged—for the privileged.

References:

Cabico, G. (2019, May 6). MMDA temporarily hits brakes on provincial bus ban dry run. Retrieved

from https://www.philstar.com/headlines/2019/05/06/1915527/mmda-temporarily-hits-brakes-

provincial-bus-ban-dry-run

DAV. (2019, July 23). provincial buses. Retrieved from https://www.bworldonline.com/ltfrb-

issues-rules-on-edsa-ban-for-provincial-buses/

Diaz, J. (2019, August 2). House sets provincial bus ban probe. Retrieved from

https://www.philstar.com/nation/2019/08/02/1939832/house-sets-provincial-bus-ban-probe

Ramirez, B. (2019, April 24). MMDA urged: Junk provincial bus ban. Retrieved from

https://www.philstar.com/nation/2019/04/24/1912013/mmda-urged-junk-provincial-bus-ban

Patag, B. (2019, May 27). Lawmaker asks SC to curb EDSA bus ban. Retrieved from

https://www.philstar.com/headlines/2019/05/27/1921328/lawmaker-asks-sc-curb-edsa-bus-ban

Patag, K. (2019, June 7). Third plea vs EDSA bus ban filed before SC. Retrieved from

https://www.philstar.com/headlines/2019/06/07/1924464/third-plea-vs-edsa-bus-ban-filed-sc

Panaligan, R. (2019, July 20). No TRO on EDSA ban on provincial buses; MMDA dry run may

proceed next week. Retrieved from https://news.mb.com.ph/2019/07/30/no-tro-on-edsa-ban-on-

provincial-buses-mmda-dry-run-may-proceed-next-week/
Aglibot J et al. (2019, July 31). Provincial bus ban won’t solve Edsa traffic, says transport firm
exec. Retrieved from https://newsinfo.inquirer.net/1148173/provincial-bus-ban-wont-solve-edsa-
traffic-says-transport-firm-exec.