IATF is the culprit

By July 19, 2021Random Thoughts

By Leonardo Micua

THE cat is finally out of the bag. The bus operators finally spilled the beans why no provincial bus is still operating the Pangasinan-Metro Manila route.

At the July 12 Question Hour of the Sangguniang Panlalawigan, it was revealed that it is the IATF resolution 101- 2021 that’s preventing the roll out of provincial buses.

Alexander Briones, operations manager of Victory Liner, said it’s the IATF resolution that prevents provincial buses from entering using their terminals in Metro Manila or health and safety reasons in connection with the still ongoing pandemic.

Instead, the IATF resolution requires bus operators to use the North Luzon Express Terminal (NLET) to load and unload their passengers on strictly point-to-point basis with no pick and drop along the way.

While bus operators were given permits by LTFRB months back to resume their trips for Pangasinan to Metro Manila, Briones said the terms of the permits changed overnight by the IATF resolution compelling provincial buses to use NLET not their terminals in Cubao, Pasay, Pasig and Manila.

But the bus operators are invoking the writ of injunction issued by a Regional Trial Court in Quezon City in their favor enjoining them to use their respective terminals to load and unload passengers which was ignored by IATF.

Additionally, the bus operators are objecting to use NLET not only because it is 30-kilometers away from Monumento in Caloocan City that would over burden commuters in resources, time and energy, but also because the bus companies are being made to bleed dry by a monthly assessment of P100 K to P150K per slot (line) per month.

From this arrangement, the bus operators will only be earning crumbs while the consortium that owns NLET will be having the cake and eating it too.

Briones said the IATF resolution will eventually make the commuting public take to the vans that are charging P1,000 to P1,500 per trip because it will provide the convenience of reaching their destinations with no hassle.

While LTFRB also changed its rules to make the application for permits convenient by requiring the downloading of a QR code from the agency website, and buses will also be allowed to operate with full capacity, no longer 50 percent, provided plastic barriers are installed to separate them, but there is still the catch – operators must sign an affidavit of undertaking that will oblige them to use NLET.

Don’t you smell a rat in this arrangement? The policies of the government are favoring the owners of NLET over the bus operators who already suffered tremendous losses after their buses were all grounded in their respective garages since the start of the pandemic.

How can they recover if they are expected to surrender their earnings to the owners of NLET? This is tantamount to highway robbery.

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By the way, NCR was already downgraded to General Community Quarantine in the latest reclassification issued by President Rodrigo Duterte.  

It means COVID-19 cases in the national capital are decreasing because of the roll out of the vaccination for its A1, A2 and A3 sector.  

But the cases are soaring in the Visayas and Mindanao, and closer to home, in La Union which has already overtaken Pangasinan in the number of active COVID-19 cases. San Fernando City was already classified by the Regional Epidemiology Surveillance Unit as a high-risk area. 

Cases are also soaring in Cagayan as well as in Isabela.  

We hope it is not the dreaded Delta variant that is causing the spiraling of cases in the Visayas and Mindanao. 

Our proximity to Malaysia and Indonesia, where the Delta variant from India is now rampaging, should make us all the more worrisome. Indonesia is already showing an India-like surge because of the variant. God forbids we are not put in the same predicament.

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Condolence to the family of our media colleague, Jose Edwin Tandoc, editor of the Regional Examiner, who succumbed recently to heart attack, triggered by his diabetes after reportedly having a bout with COVID-19. His remains lie at the San Juan Evangelista Chapel by the St. John Metropolitan Cathedral.

The son of our late good friend Jose “Joe” Tandoc is best remembered when he accepted the challenge to a debate on some issues with a radio commentator and showed up by his lonesome to face his challenger right in the latter’s station. Seeing Edwin ready and serious to debate, the challenger backed out and capitulated.

Rest In Peace, Edwin.

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