SENATE LEADERS on Wednesday filed a resolution “strongly urging” the Metro Manila Development Authority (MMDA) and its policy-making authority, the Metro Manila Council (MMC), to recall and suspend the ban on driver-only vehicles in EDSA during rush hours.
Senate Resolution No. 845 was signed by Senate President Vicente C. Sotto III, Senate President Pro Tempore Ralph G. Recto, Senate Majority Leader Juan Miguel F. Zubiri, and Senate Minority Leader Franklin M. Drilon.
In the resolution, the senators noted the lack of public consultation and hearing on the vehicular traffic-reduction scheme.
“The implementation of a regulation that would allegedly affect 70% of the road-users tax-paying motorists plying the Philippines‘ major thoroughfare without holding a prior public consultations or hearing is violative of the due process of laws enshrined and protected under the Constitution,“ it added.
The scheme, also called the Expanded High Occupancy Vehicles Lanes (HOV) Lanes Policy, is being enforced from Aug. 15 to Aug. 22 on a test run, during which violators will not be apprehended and fined.
The senators also said the policy has deprived thousands of people of the use of the country‘s major thoroughfare, and at the same time questioned the veracity of MMDA’s data indicating that about 70% of motor vehicles plying EDSA is “driver-only driven.”
Similar policies being enforced in other countries, such as the United States, Canada, and Indonesia, have been criticized as “ineffective and counterproductive in addressing traffic congestion,” they added.
“Other jurisdictions provided for incentives for HOVs instead of imposing a total ban for driver-only vehicles,” the resolution stated.
Sought for comment, MMDA General Manager Jose Arturo S. Garcia, Jr. said in a press briefing: “It’s no problem. We will follow what is in the law. We will not pick fights with anyone. For us, we will heed the MMC resolution.”
“Now, if ever someone opposes and files before the court, whatever the court decides, we will follow,” he added.
The Expanded HOV Traffic Scheme covers all lanes of EDSA, from North EDSA in Quezon City to Magallanes in Makati City. Driver-only vehicles are barred from traversing this portion from 7 to 10 a.m. and 6 to 9 p.m., Monday to Friday.
Mr. Garcia, in a statement, reiterated that the HOV traffic scheme is aimed to encourage motorists to carpool, thereby, reduce the volume of vehicles along EDSA during rush hours.
“We are not encouraging people to share ride with a stranger but with their family, neighbors, community,” he said.
The MMDA targets to fully implement the traffic scheme on August 23.
“Hopefully, we can implement the scheme by next week but it depends on the assessment of the dry run. We still have to check if our CCTV cameras can handle monitoring at nighttime,” said Mr. Garcia.
The MMDA is also coordinating with the with Land Transportation Office on the regulation on car tints, which makes it practically impossible to determine the number of passengers in a vehicle.
“No motor vehicle will be registered with LTO with heavily-tinted vehicles,” said LTO Law Enforcement Services Director Francis Ray A. Almora, noting that tints are restricted on public utility vehicles while there is a minimum visible light transmission tint on private vehicles.
The MMDA said about 2,953 driver-only vehicles were caught violating the traffic scheme Wednesday morning, based on monitoring through closed circuit television cameras under the No Contact Apprehension Policy and handheld cameras. — Camille A. Aguinaldo with Denise A. Valdez