The Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) on Tuesday said the dry run of the ban on provincial buses in Edsa will continue on Wednesday as bus operators have already volunteered to follow the measure a week before an injunction against it was released by a Quezon City court.

In a press conference in Makati City, MMDA general manager Jose Arturo “Jojo” Garcia said it was not up to them to manage or stop the dry run of the bus ban as it was always voluntary.

“Naglabas ng injunction ang korte, alangan naman suwayin ko. Bukas baka nakakulong na ko. Pero kung gusto natin subukan ang policy, nagboluntary kayo, may magagawa ba ako? Kaya nga (The court release an injunction, it’s not like I could disobey that. I could get locked up tomorrow. But if we want to try the policy, you all volunteered, what can I do? That’s why it’s) voluntary, it’s up to them,” Garcia said.

Quezon City regional trial court (RTC) Branch 223 Judge Caridad Walse-Lutero issued a decision dated July 31, 2019, providing a writ of preliminary injunction to stop the MMDA and the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board from implementing the bus ban.

The court also junked the agencies claim that “public land transportation service is contributing to the worsening traffic conditions due to the presence of terminals in the Metropolis, especially along Edsa.”

Garcia said about 15 bus operators have agreed to participate in the bus ban in a meeting last week.

“Kausap ko siguro mga (I probably spoke with) 15. More or less, I don’t know the numbers. One more or less. Yung 14 nag-yes,yung isa magpapaalam sa boss niya (14 said yes, one will ask permission from higher up),” Garcia said.

He clarified the MMDA will not enforce the bus ban in any way as the dry run is merely a promise from private bus operators and its outcome remains to be seen.

“I‘m very confident na lahat ng umoo sakin, gagawin nila. Yun lang pinanghahawakan ko. Inoohan mo ko eh, eh ‘di gawin mo. Umoo kayo. Sabihin mo sakin na hindi, okay lang naman sakin. That’s why malalaman natin ito bukas (that everyone who said yes to me, will act on it. That’s the only thing I’m holding on to. You told me yes, so do it. They said yes. If you told me no, it’s okay. That’s why we’ll know more about this tomorrow),” Garcia said.

Since the injunction took the power from the MMDA to intervene and manage the dry run, he said any untoward event cannot be blamed on them and maybe blamed on the injunction instead.

“If ever magkaroon ng (there is) confusion, it is not our fault, this was well planned. Ilang araw na kami nag meeting niyan (We had meetings about this for days),” Garcia said.

“I think it’s the injunction, it’s not us. Kasi kung wala itong papel na ito, tuloy pa rin bukas ng maayos (Because if this paper did not exist, we would be able to properly hold the dry run tomorrow),” he added.

To help in the voluntary dry run led by the bus operators, the MMDA will deploy its personnel as dispatchers in interim terminals and as traffic enforcers along Edsa.

“Our enforcers are ready, we will deploy people. Magde-deploy kami dun ng mga tao namin dun sa mga interim. Hindi bawal mag deploy diyan kasi it’s a terminal. Nakaready si Bong (Nebrija) diyan sa Edsa. Nakaready ang CubMa (task force Cubao-Makati), nakausap namin (We will deploy people in the interims. We’re not prohibited from deploying enforcers there because it’s a terminal. Edsa traffic chief Bong Nebrija will be ready in Edsa. Task force Cubao-Makati will be ready, we spoke with them),” Garcia said.

He added there will be at least seven dispatchers from the MMDA in interim terminals “at any given time.”

The dry run will follow the schedule previously set by the MMDA which meant the provincial bus ban will begin at 4:00 AM and end at 10:00 PM.

A meeting will be held on Thursday (August 8, 2019) to discuss the outcome of the voluntary dry run.

LTFRB MC 2019-001 bans provincial buses on Edsa and designates their endpoints in interim terminals while MMDA Regulation 19-002 prohibits the issuance of permits or revokes those already issued to provincial bus terminals along Edsa. (PNA)