July 16, 2024

■  Hanna C. Lacsamana   

While having different strategies and sources of authority, the city council and the Department of the Transportation-Cordillera are on the same page on the need to stop the operation of colorum vehicles in Baguio City and have initially agreed that their traffic improvement and anti-colorum efforts have to be reconciled.

The idea cropped during the city council’s discussion on Memorandum Circular 2024-26 issued by the Department of the Interior and Local Government received by the city on March 11, directing local government units through sanggunian or executive action to cause the prohibition of the illegal operation of colorum operators or those without certificate of public convenience franchise from using public transport terminals within their respective localities, among other provisions.

The DOTR, as well as representatives of jeepney and UV Express operators and the Traffic and Transportation Management Division of the City Engineer’s Office, were invited to the city council session on June 10 to shed light on the colorum vehicles that are operating in the city’s public transport terminals, which both the DOTR and PUV operators confirmed.

Atty. Kristel Grace Sanchez, who represented DOTR-Cordillera Director Joshua Pablito said the agency has been monitoring and apprehending colorum operators and has impounded several motor vehicles which were found operating without a franchise.

Rey Bacoco, UV Express Federation president, identified a portion at Rizal Park and the former 3H bus terminal as areas being used by colorum vehicles, which he said is unfair to legitimate PUV operators and puts passengers’ safety at risk.

The city implements Ordinance 55, s. 2017, or the Anti-Colorum Ordinance of Baguio which tasks the Baguio City Police Office to enforce the same. The city council had also passed Resolution 144-2023 “Requesting the Honorable City Mayor Benjamin Magalong to create an ‘anti-colorum task force’ to apprehend all colorum vehicles in the city”.

On the other hand, the DOTR through the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board has been mandated to arrest drivers of colorum vehicles and seize their vehicles and shut down the operations of transport network vehicles for violations.

The city, based on its ordinance, issues a traffic citation ticket for traffic violations, while the LTFRB issues a temporary operator’s permit and impounds a colorum vehicle if there are violations.

Sanchez added the issuance of business permit for public transport terminal is within the jurisdiction of the LGU, while their agency is in charge of conducting inspections to check if these public utility terminals are compliant with the omnibus franchising guidelines.

The city ordinance and the DOTR also have different sets of fines for violations where the city fines P5,000 while DOTR fines range up to P1 million depending on PUV type.

With the prohibition of colorum vehicles falling under the mandate of LTFRB and with the city having an ordinance for the same and which even created an anti-colorum task force, Councilor Peter Fianza asked if the DILG MC is needed since it is “prohibiting what is already prohibited”.

Sanchez said what may be done is to harmonize the city and the LTFRB’s implementation of its respective mandates.

Councilor Betty Lourdes Tabanda asked whether the BCPO has ever coordinated its anti-colorum enforcement efforts, and later suggested for the LTFRB to initiate talks on the matter so that they can reconcile the ordinance with that of the agency or for the city council to be guided if there is even a need to repeal the ordinance.

Sanchez said she has no knowledge whether the BCPO has been coordinating its enforcement of the ordinance with the LTFRB, and while it is violative of the DOTr-LTFRB mandate since only deputized agents of the Land Transportation Office and LTFRB can apprehend colorum vehicles, she agreed it is better to reconcile their anti-colorum efforts through coordination.

“It would be better for the city to coordinate with our office for the proper implementation of apprehensions. In our agency, we know that LTFRB is the repository of motor vehicles and issuance of driver’s license. With the implementation of Republic Act 10930 on the demerit point system, all violations have corresponding demerit points that will be a basis in applying penalties,” Sanchez said.

She said if the LGU coordinates with them, particularly the barangays whose officials knew if there are motor vehicles violating the anti-colorum operation and would be familiar with their staging areas in their jurisdiction, the LTFRB could send its enforcers to do the inspection of such terminals.

The issue has been referred to the appropriate committee, which has been tasked to look into the DILG 26, s. 2024; the possibility of reconciling the city’s ordinance with LTFRB guidelines; and to consider directing the CEO-TTMD to submit to the council its plan on public terminals that are allowed in the city.

In the meantime, Vice Mayor Faustino Olowan asked the LTFRB to go after colorum operators immediately.

“So we can help those who are legitimately operating. Maraming nahuhuli, pero bakit nadagdagan pa? I think it is unfair even for the jeepney operators, pero kailangan i-report n’yo (jeepney operators) dahil kayo ang nawawalan ng pasahero. These illegal ones are laughing their way out for not paying anything. We should also coordinate with the barangays because they know who are illegally operating in the barangays,” Olowan said.