By Charissa Luci-Atienza
AKO Bicol Party-list Rep. Alfredo Garbin Jr said Sunday that the Supreme Court should have taken jurisdiction over petitions questioning the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority’s (MMDA) ban on bus stations along EDSA, citing that there are “genuine issues of constitutionality” that must be expeditiously threshed out and resolved.
He stood firm that the constitutionality issues raised in their petition as well as the urgency to address them should serve as “exceptionally compelling reasons” for the SC to step in and resolve the matter in a swift manner.
“With all due respect, and without prejudice to the filing of our Motion for Reconsideration, the SC should have taken jurisdiction over the petition on the provincial bus ban as in other cases they decided wherein direct resort to SC is allowed when there are genuine issues of constitutionality that must be addressed at the most immediate time,” Garbin said in a statement.
AKO Bicol Party-list is one of the three petitioners against MMDA’s provincial bus ban along EDSA. It filed its petition on April 29.
“A direct resort to this court includes availing of the remedies of certiorari and prohibition to assail the constitutionality of actions of both legislative and executive branches of the government.
“We respectfully submit that the issues of constitutionality raised in the petition as well as the urgency of the need of addressing the same would qualify as exceptionally compelling reasons which would justify direct resort to the Honorable Supreme Court,” Garbin said.
AKO Bicol Party-list’s petition, along with the two other petitions separately filed Albay Rep. Joey Salceda, and Bayan Muna partylist chair Neri Colmenares and several others, were junked by the SC. The SC said the petitioners violated the high court’s doctrine of hierarchy of courts, and should have filed their petitions before lower courts such as the regional trial courts or the Court of Appeals (CA) .
“Among others our petition raises a genuine issue of constitutionality on whether or not the MMDA committed grave abuse of discretion amounting to lack or excess of jurisdiction in the issuance of MMDA regulation No. 19-002 series of 2019,” Garbin explained.
“Another issue is whether the said regulation violates the due process enshrined in our Constitution.,” he added.
MMDA Regulation Number 19-002 provides that the loading and unloading zones of the provincial buses will be moved to the integrated terminal in Sta. Rosa in Laguna for those coming from the south: to the terminal in Valenzuela City for those coming from the north; and to the Parañaque Integrated Terminal Exchange (PITX) in Parañaque City for those with terminals in Pasay City. It also prohibits or revokes issuance of business permits to terminals along EDSA.
All petitioners said that the MMDA lacks the legal authority to ban provincial buses along EDSA, citing that it does not have legislative or police powers.
“Yet another constitutional issue raised in our petition is whether or not the issuance of the said MMDA regulation constitutes an usurpation of official function vested by law to the LTFRB (Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board) ,” Garbin said.
”Apart from the very fact that the instant petition involves numerous genuine constitutional issues, the same likewise involves very novel legal issues never before ruled upon by the court where the issuance of the said MMDA regulation was, as expressly acknowledged by the very regulation itself, made solely in the verbal-directive of the President and as such we submit that the instant controversy qualifies as a case of first impression warranting direct resort to the honorable Supreme Court,” he added.
Despite the dismissal of the three petitions, the writ of preliminary injunction issued by Quezon City Regional Trial Court Branch 223 on July 31, 2019 against the provincial bus ban remains in effect.
The Quezon City court gave in to the bus operators’ plea to halt the implementation of the MMDA regulation and LTFRB Memorandum Circular No. 2019-001, which prohibits provincial buses from plying through EDSA and requires them to stop at designated endpoints.