MANILA - The chairman of the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority missed Tuesday a Senate inquiry into his agency's provincial bus ban, which spawned gridlocks on EDSA last week.
MMDA Chairman Danilo Lim instead attended a memorandum of agreement signing that could not be postponed, his agency's general manager, Jojo Garcia, said.
Sen. Grace Poe, who led the inquiry as chairperson of the Senate public services committee, said the MOA signing was merely "ceremonial."
"Ano ba naman iyung pirmahan nila nang 5 minuto at pumunta rito?" she said.
(Couldn't they have signed that in 5 minutes and go here after?)
"Syempre iba naman iyung sasabihin mo. Dahil hindi ikaw talaga ang namumuno, mapapairal mo ba 'yan na walang approval galing sa kanya?" she added, addressing Garcia.
(Of course what you'll say will be different. Because you are not the leader, will you be able to implement that without approval from him.)
Poe warned that she will conduct another hearing "only to listen to his (Lim's) side."
"Doon sa mga hindi nag-a-attend, 'wag niyong iisipin na hindi matutuloy ang araw n'yo dito sapagkat accountability po iyan. Lahat dapat mayroong pagkakataong marinig ang inyong panig," she said.
(To those who don't attend, don't think that your day here will not come because this is an issue of accountability. Everyone should have a chance to have their side heard.)
The MMDA pushed through with the ban's dry run even after a Quezon City court barred the implementation of the policy.
Various groups have questioned the legality of the traffic scheme before the Supreme Court, claiming the MMDA does not have the authority to ban provincial buses along EDSA as the agency does not have legislative nor police powers.
They rely on a 2007 Supreme Court ruling which invalidated former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo’s similar directive to close down bus terminals along EDSA in 2003.
The Philippine capital’s traffic congestion costs the country P3.5 billion daily, a 2017 data from the Japan International Cooperation Agency showed. This could rise to P5.4 billion by 2035 if no interventions are made.
The government is now rushing to build transportation systems to make commuting in the capital easier and free the roads of cars.