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Albay, Naga biz chambers slam provincial bus ban along EDSA

LEGAZPI CITY --- The Albay Chamber of Commerce and Industry (ACCI) on Tuesday joined the move of Albay Rep. Joey Salceda in asking the Supreme Court (SC) to issue a Temporary Restraining Order (TRO) to stop the Metro Manila Development Authority (MMDA) from implementing to ban provincial buses along EDSA highway.

In Naga City, Ferdinand Sia, president of the Metro Naga Chamber of Commerce and Industry (MNCCI) said they are preparing a resolution expressing full support to Salceda’s move.

Rosemary Quinto-Rey, ACCI president, in a statement by the Albay chamber said the business sector in Bicol would seriously be affected as this would bring gross economic retardation due to the additional freight charges for the transfer of goods and services spawned by the provincial bus ban.

The ACCI statement likewise lamented that the ban would bring substantial inconvenience to commuters, particularly the persons with disabilities (PWD), senior citizens, students, and other disadvantaged sectors. The bus ban is a curtailment of the right of people to travel, the statement said.

Rey believes that the measure is discriminatory that builds barrier between the rich and the common masses.

Daniel de Leon of the MNCCI furthered that the proposal is not only discriminatory; the effect would be adverse and inversely proportional to the intended, stated objectives. He said simple calculations would prove this, and negate the assertions of the proponent MMDA [that it would redound to congestion of traffic in EDSA].

Former MNCCI President Alberto Bercasio also concurred that banning provincial buses is not only anti-business but anti-commuter as well.

The ACCI urged the MMDA to look for other ways to address the traffic problem in EDSA aside from the ban and establishing a bus terminal for Bicol buses in Sta Rosa, Laguna.

Salceda on Monday petitioned the Supreme Court seeking to stop the implementation of an MMDA ban on provincial buses plying Edsa.

Salceda said “the move is anti-poor and anti-probinsyano,” saying the ban is not an answer to the horrendous traffic situation in Metro Manila but would rather cause “great economic, disruption, inconvenience, expenses and damages to multitudes of commuters to and from as far as the Visayas and the Bicol region,” he added.

Citing transportation statistics, he said there are 2.8 million cars in the National Capital Region versus 6,000 provincial buses. “With the data, who do you think is actually causing the traffic?” Salceda asked. There are 1,500 buses going to Metro Manila from South Luzon, with 2,500 others bound for the north. Of the south-bound buses, 236 are from Albay.

Earlier, Albay lawmakers have joined hands in strongly opposing Metro Manila Development Authority’s (MMDA) plan to ban provincial buses along Edsa (Epifanio de Los Santos Avenue) and transfer their stations to a terminal in Santa Rosa, Laguna.

Albay 3rd District Rep. Fernando Gonzalez and Ako Bicol Rep. Alfredo Garbin joined 2nd District Rep. Joey Salceda in opposing the ban.

The MMDA claims that the ban, previously scheduled on April and moved to June, is among the perceived solutions to the traffic problem in Metro Manila.

Salceda, Gonzalez, and Garbin, in separate interviews, were one in asserting that one of the solutions to the Metro Manila traffic situation is for the government to adopt a public transportation system that is efficient, effective, and affordable.

The solons recommended that buses, trains and other modes of transportation be managed and operated by the government.

The ACCI is looking forward that other business groups in Bicol will voice their similar and common sentiment on the issue that will directly affect business and normal travel routines of thousands of Bicolanos going to and from Manila on a daily basis.

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