By Aaron Recuenco
Taking the cue from President Duterte’s marching orders, Philippine National Police (PNP) chief Director General Ronald dela Rosa on Monday directed the Highway Patrol Group (HPG) to spearhead the crackdown on colorum public utility vehicles (PUVs) around the country to ensure commuters’ safety.
On the same day, Quezon City Mayor Herbert M. Bautista personally served the closure order on Dimple Star Transport bus terminal in Cubao.
“We don’t want another tragedy to happen. Both the national and local governments have been trying to implement measures to minimize the risks on the road. The public should also do its share by not patronizing colorum and non-compliant buses,” Bautista said.
President Duterte had ordered the crackdown against colorum PUVs in the wake of the deadly Dimple Star bus crash in Mindoro Occidental last week.
The PNP chief said that the HPG will be in a better position to help in the crackdown since it has regional units around the country, since the Inter-Agency Council on Traffic (IACT) lacks manpower.
“We are aware of the manpower problem of the IACT and we are here to be the law enforcement arm,” said Dela Rosa.
The HPG has more than 1,000 personnel around the country. In Metro Manila, the HPG is active in helping ease traffic in various busy roads in the metropolis.
“So they (IACT) can just tap the services of our Highway Patrol Units but right now since the instruction of the President is very clear, the Highway Patrol should conduct anti-colorum operations,” said Dela Rosa.
“The HPG shall spearhead the anti-colorum operations, but of course, they have to coordinate with the LTFRB (Land Transportation and Regulatory Board),” he added.
In his visit to the accident site in Mindoro Occidental, President Duterte ordered the arrest of the owner of the Dimple Star bus and the crackdown on colorum vehicles.
Following Duterte’s order, police forces in the two Mindoro provinces have impounded 51 buses of Dimple Star.
Chief Supt. Arnel Escobal, HPG director, said anti-colorum operations were also initiated in Metro Manila and nearby provinces and have so far resulted in the impounding of 32 more buses.
Dela Rosa said he expects anti-colorum operations to intensify around the country in compliance with the President’s order.
Meanwhile, the owners of the Dimple Star were sent home after their surrender on Friday night despite Duterte’s order to detain them.
Director Roel Obusan, head of the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG), said that they allowed the release of couple Hilbert and Nida Napatfor them to be able to obtain more documents. (With a report from Chito A. Chavez)