By Alexandria Dennise San Juan
“Our problem with the colorum vehicles is as grave as the illegal drug trade in the country.”
This was the statement of Transportation Undersecretary for Road Transport Tim Orbos as he led Wednesday the launching of an inter-agency task force that will implement an intensified crackdown on all colorum vehicles nationwide.
Following the directive of President Rodrigo Duterte to eliminate all colorum public utility vehicles on the road, the Department of Transportation formed “Task Force Kamao,” an inter-agency council organized to apprehend illegal vehicles operating in the country.
“We have come together in an inter-agency collaboration to address this menace that has been there for quite sometime and even until now nandyan pa rin,” Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board chairman Martin Delgra III, who will be heading the task force, said.
The LTFRB and the Land Transportation Office, headed by Assistant Secretary Edgar Galvante, being the law enforcement agencies for transportation, are the lead agencies of Task Force Kamao which aims to promote safe and convenient PUVs by getting rid of unregistered vehicles.
“Mabigat ang ating kalaban sa colorum. Parang drugs, malalim, hindi alam kung saan ang hangganan, at hindi alam kung saan pupunta. Kailangan dito ay magsama-sama na tayo (Our problem on colorum [vehicles] is heavy. It is like drugs. It is deep, we do not know where the border is, and we do not know where to go. What we need here is to join together),” Orbos said during the launching at the LTFRB Conference Room Wednesday.
Orbos explained that similar to the drug problems, people are getting killed due to “serious adverse consequences of this nefarious practice” which should be stopped..
“Walang kalaban-laban ang mga mananakay. Ang drugs sarili lang ang pinapatay, sa colorum yung mismong buhay ng ating mga mananakay are at risk. Ang ating mga kasama sa law enforcement, sa LGU nandyan po sila para tumulong. Gagawin nating parehong approach ng mga kapulisan sa droga (The riding public are helpless. On drugs, people are only killing theirselves, on the colorum, the lives of the commuters are at risk),” Orbos explained.
Aside from LTO and LTFRB, other key officials in the task force are Metro Manila Development Authority Chairman Danilo Lim, and PNP-Highway Patrol Group Director PC Supt. Arnel Escobal.
Various government agencies have also pledged their full support and cooperation to the task force and its anti-colorum drive including the Department of National Defense, National Telecommunications Commission, Armed Forces of the Philippines, Department of Justice, and the Department of Interior and Local Government.
“To all the colorum vehicles, watch out and get ready, we already have a lot of authorities to track you down, our big brothers our now here,” LTFRB member Atty. Aileen Lizada said.
“Those behind colorum vehicles, active or non-active officers, stop it already. We will be out to get you,” she warned.
On the part of the PNP-HPG, Escobal said that his officers will be conducting simultaneous anti-colorum operations for 24 hours as told by PNP Chief Ronald Dela Rosa to conduct an intensive campaign against colorum vehicles.
Escobal added that at least 1,000 personnel from PNP-HPG will be deployed nationwide to monitor colorum activities, adding that they already have a list of some giant bus companies with units operating without a Certificate of Public Convenience.
As a large number of colorum vehicles are expected to be apprehended through the collaboration of intel enforcement and other law enforcement agencies, Delgra said that they were able to acquire land in Magalang, Pampanga, which will be turned into an impounding area for Metro Manila and Central Luzon.
Delgra added that they are now in the process of procuring impounding areas across the regions, covering at least eight regional offices.
The LTFRB chief also appealed to other offices with wide empty lots to be a temporary impounding area for apprehended colorum vehicles.
To date, the Inter Agency Council on Traffic (i-ACT) has already apprehended more than 450 colorum PUVs.
Through the launching of the task force, DOTr expected that the number of apprehensions will increase as they called out for the support and cooperation of the public to rid the streets with unsafe and unaccounted means of public transport.