MANILA, Mar 24 (Mabuhay) – For some commuters from southern Luzon traveling on roads going to and from Manila, pictures simply paint a thousand words.
In a motion and reply submitted to the Supreme Court, a group of bus commuters led by Angeles Bayot has included 23 photographs showing that the government’s newly introduced Southwest Interim Transport Terminal (SITT) did not meet international standards and would only make things harder for travelers.
“These photos clearly show that the questioned bus terminal is far from the ‘international standards’ of a public terminal,”said the petitioners, who even sent one of their lawyer, Antonio Carlos Bayot, to personally inspect the terminal in Parañaque City earlier this month.
One of the photos showed the terminal being surrounded by makeshift structures, such as carinderias and other stalls, which could “serve as hotspots for bystanders, and even drug users/pushers.” Another one showed garbage, rubble and debris scattered around the terminal, exposing passengers to pollution and health hazards.
“Surroundings of the SITT appear to be more like dumpsites rather than a ‘world class’ terminal for commuters. Considering Uniwide Coastal Mall’s dilapidated facilities and condition, it is very questionable why respondents agreed to lease these premises,” the petitioners said, adding that an asphalt plant can also be found near the terminal.
Other photos showed that island bays for waiting passengers are “squeezed” between buses with a space of only around “two to three feet.”
“Amidst the long queue of buses, bystanders are totally oblivious of the hazards/accidents waiting to happen… (of the) danger they are in because of the very small distance between them and the moving buses,” they said.
The terminal also has a low ceiling and is “very dark, small, and filled with smoke/fumes from the diesel emission of buses.
“Literally, the smoke inside the SITT is so bad that one cannot stay for 5 minutes without getting dizzy or immediately developing cough,” the petitioners said, even suggesting that the Department of Health should study the pollution levels inside the terminal.
“Surely, this kind of a facility is very harmful for the health of those sick, disabled, pregnant women, infants, children, and senior citizens,” the petitioners said.
Another photo showed that the long lines of buses – waiting to be dispatched – are contributing to heavy and “monstrous” traffic in surrounding area, like the Diosdado Macapagal Blvd., Coastal Road, and Roxas Blvd.
The controversial transport policy prevents provincial public utility buses from entering the National Capital Region.
Buses using the Coastal Road or Manila-Cavite Expressway are barred from entering beyond Parañaque City.
These buses are required to end their routes at the Southwest Interim Transport Terminal at the Uniwide Coastal Mall in Baclaran, Parañaque City. Commuters have to transfer to city buses or other public utility vehicles operating within the city.
The petitioners who are commuters from Cavite travelling daily to work in Manila have earlier asked the high court to issue a temporary restraining order or a status quo ante order against three orders related to the newly-introduced transport policy, namely:
Executive Order No. 67, which establishes an Integrated Transport System (ITS) issued by President Benigno Aquino III;
Administrative Order No. 40, which creates “Interim Transport Terminals” in preparation for the ITS, also issued by the President; and
Memorandum Circular No. 2013-004 which amends the route of provincial buses coming from provinces south of Metro Manila, issued by the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB).
The commuters said commuters coming from the south had to shell out extra money to reach their destinations in Metro Manila. It said implementing the contested policy is similar to directly imposing taxes on commuters. (MNS)