Quezon City court junks petition for injunction vs LTFRB memo

Published August 14, 2020, 2:44 PM

by Joseph Pedrajas

A Quezon City court has dismissed a petition for injunction filed against the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) over its memorandum setting rules on limited public transportation in Metro Manila while it is under general community quarantine (GCQ).

Quezon City Regional Trial Court (RTC) Branch 219 Presiding Judge Janet Abergos-Samar junked the petition for the issuance of a preliminary injunction and a temporary restraining order (TRO) filed by Ariel Inton, former head of the Quezon City Task Force for Transport and Traffic Management and founder of the Lawyers for Commuters Safety and Protection, for failing to state a cause of action.

This stemmed from Inton’s petition challenging the validity of LTFRB’s memorandum MC 2020-019 which sets rules on the resumption of limited public transportation as well as the creation of 31 “rationalized bus routes,” among others.

In filing the petition “in his personal capacity,” Inton asked the court to issue an injunction valid for 72 hours and to restrain LTFRB from implementing MC 2020-019 for lack of publication and a lack of notice and hearing on its issuance.

He argued that rules and regulations are required to be published in the Official Gazette or in a newspaper of general circulation, and said that the mere posting of the memo on an official website or social media account and its submission to the Office of the National Register is an inadequate compliance with the rules.

He also argued that with the issuance of MC 2020-019, the rights of commuters such as himself, as well as the rights of holders of previously issued certificates of public convenience or franchises, had been violated as there was no notice and hearing on the issuance of the memorandum circular.

But in its answer, the LTFRB questioned Inton’s legal standing to file the petition. LTFRB argued that Inton is neither a real party-in-interest nor a representative of a real-party-in interest.

LTFRB also said Inton’s petition is moot as special permits have already been granted to city bus operators.

The court  ruled in its decision that Inton is not a real-party-in-interest as he never alleged that he was a holder of a certificate of public convenience for public utility buses operating in the NCR, which will be affected by the enforcement of MC 2020-019.

“He is thus not entitled to avail of the present petition,” the court noted.

The court added that Inton, in his judicial affidavit, clarified that he did not file the petition in behalf of the Lawyers for Commuters’ Safety and Protection. Therefore, his petition states no cause of action.

“Petitioner did not allege that he is a holder or franchisee of certificate of public convenience for a public utility bus/es whose route/s will be allegedly modified/amended by MC No. 2020-019,” the court said in a 17-page decision.

“Not having been granted a certificate of public convenience for a public utility bus, it cannot be said that his right under the public franchise was violated by respondent (LTFRB) in the implementation of MC No. 2020-019. Obviously, the three essential elements of a cause of action are not present.”

The court also ruled against Inton’s allegation of an absence of publication of MC 2020-019, noting “the petitioner merely surmised that MC No. 2020-019 was not published, simply because its effectivity clause never mentioned that a publication was in fact conducted.”

The court said the LTFRB sufficiently showed during the 14 July 2020 hearing of the petition that MC 2020-019 was actually published in the 17 May 2020 issue of the Manila Bulletin and that prior to its issuance, notices were sent by the LTFRB, and a hearing was conducted.

“Notably, petitioner never made even the slightest attempt to present evidence to the contrary,” the court said,  “In fine, the instant Petition should be dismissed on the ground that petitioner is not a real party in interest and for failure of the petitioner to state a cause of action.”