Senate bet Diokno takes MMDA to task over new provincial bus scheme

Human rights lawyer Jose Manuel 'Chel' Diokno on Saturday, April 23, raised concerns over what he called the government’s “oppressive” policies, particularly that of the Metro Manila Development Authority’s (MMDA), that impose additional burden on commuters.

Human rights lawyer Chel Diokno (Photo from Diokno’s campaign team)

Diokno, who is running for senator in next month’s polls, cited the MMDA’s policy of prohibiting provincial buses from entering the National Capital Region (NCR) outside of the window hours between 10 p.m. to 5 a.m.

Outside the window hours, passengers are forced to take the bus to the NLEX Terminal (NLET) in Bocaue, Bulacan where provincial buses are allowed to drop and pick up commuters going to or coming from Central Luzon and Northern Luzon provinces.

Those coming from the southern part of Luzon are required to do the same at the Parañaque Integrated Terminal Exchange (PITX) in Parañaque City.

“Wala ba kayong pagmamahal sa commuters natin? Pagod na ang ating mga commuter sa mahabang biyahe, tapos oobligahin mo pa silang magpalipat-lipat ng sasakyan. Paano na iyong maraming dalang bagahe? (Don’t you have any love for our commuters? Our commuters are tired from the long commute, then you will oblige them to transfer rides. What will happen to those with heavy baggage?),” Diokno said.

“Common sense lang. Bus din naman ang maghahatid sa mga pasahero mula NLET patungong NCR. Bakit hindi na lang payagang pumasok ang mga provincial bus sa Kamaynilaan sa labas ng window hours para mas madali ang biyahe ng ating commuters galing probinsiya (It’s also the bus that will transport passengers from NLET going to NCR. Why don’t they allow provincial buses to enter Manila outside the window hours so the travel of our commuters going to the province will be easy),” he added.

On Thursday, April 23, MMDA chair Romando Artes clarified provincial buses are still allowed to ply their routes going in and out of Metro Manila beyond the agency’s window hours scheme so long as they end their trips at designated terminals.

READ: MMDA clarifies role on provincial bus window hours, assails operators over confusion

Diokno made a call to the MMDA and the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) to closely coordinate with the public transport industry before implementing any policy after they pointed fingers at one another over the provincial bus rules.

“Maiiwasan ang pagtuturuan at pagsisisihan kung mayroon tayong koordinasyon sa isa’t isa. Puwede rin namang gumawa kayo ng group chat para maiwasan ang anumang kaguluhan na nakadadagdag pa sa pasanin ng ating commuter (Finger-pointing and blaming one another can be prevented if we have coordination with each other. You can make a group chat to avoid any chaos that adds to the burden of our commuters),” he said.

The veteran lawyer stressed that oppressive policies that adversely affect the commuting public have no place under Vice President Leni Robredo’s administration if she wins the presidency.

As a commuter herself, Robredo knows the everyday ordeal commuters go through just to reach their destination, he said.

If he wins a Senate seat, Diokno wants to prioritize prioritizing mass transport projects to alleviate the everyday plight of commuters and to lessen traffic along major thoroughfares.