The newly-formed “Task Force Kamao” has launched an intensified war against colorum vehicles, in reponse to the directive of President Rodrigo Duterte to implement a crackdown of colorums nationwide.
In a press briefing, Department of Transportation (DOTr) Undersecretary for Road Transport Tim Orbos said this is the first time that an inter-agency effort was put together to fight colorums on a nationwide scale. While there are exisiting campaigns, he said partnering with enforcement and intelligence agencies was necessary in order to address the problem of colorum vehicles, which he said is similar with the drug problem of the country in some respects.
“Mabigat ang ating kalaban. Parang drugs na rin ho ‘yan. Malalim ang ugat. Kaya naman naniniwala kami ni Secretary Tugade na ang panlaban dito ay magsama-sama at magsanib-pwersa,” he said.
Orbos said that just like illegal drugs, colorum vehicles put the lives of passengers at greater risks.
“Namamatay din ang tao. Walang proteksyon. Walang kalaban laban ang mga mananakay,” he said.
More Agencies, More Apprehensions
TF Kamao will be led by the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board as it has mandate over public utility vehicles. Other key agencies include the Land Trasnsportation Office (LTO), PNP Highway Patrol Group (PNP-HPG), and the Metro Manila Development Authority (MMDA) for purposes of enforcement.
Given the extent of the problem, agencies such as the Department of National Defense (DND), National Telecommunications Commission (NTC), Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP), and the Department of Justice (DOJ), and the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) were also tapped for intelligence gathering.
Orbos said that anti-colorum operations must simultaneously be conducted in Metro Manila and the provices. In Metro Manila, the Inter-Agency Council on Traffic (i-ACT), which has already been apprehending colorums since August 2016, will take the lead. Local Government Units will have their own plans of action, which will be coordinated with TF Kamao.
The LTFRB warned operators of colorum vehicles that with more agencies involved and more coordinated efforts, apprehensions are expected to increase.
“Sa mga colorum, humanda na ho kayo. Marami na kami. Nandito na ang mga big brothers namin —- enforcement and intelligence. We are out to get you,” said LTFRB Board Member Aileen Lizada.
More than a problem of demand
LTFRB Chairman Martin Delgra III also refuted claims that colorum vehicles are just addressing the demand of commuters especially in the provinces.
“We have more than 22,000 bus units all over the country, most of them in the provinces. Ang iba kasi nagsasamantala. Kahit naman sa highways na may sufficient buses, may mga colorum pa rin na buses at vans. Kaya umaangal din ang mga operators na ligal,” said Delgra.
LTO Chief Edgar Galvante echoed Delgra’s sentiments saying the fight against colorums is not just about the number of PUVs on the road.
“Ang laban against colorums is not just about mababawasan ang sasakyan at walang masasakyan ang tao. It’s not just that. Pag may nadisgrasya, walang maibigay na tulong. Tungkol po ito sa safety. Kaya hangga’t may kolorum, magpapatuloy ang mga operasyon,” Galvante said.
The LTFRB is also currently conducting an inventory of buses nationwide to protect those with franchises, and make sure that routes are being served.
The MMDA also appealed to some groups to not use the commuters in order to justify their illegal businesses.
“Everytime naman na may operasyon laban sa mga colorum, coordinated ang mga ahensya at may augmentation ng mga bus. Sana lang wag gamitin ito ng mga colorum para magalit ang tao sa gobyerno. Nagpapaawa sila eh. In the first place, wala sila dapat dyan,” said MMDA OIC-General Manager Jose Arturo Garcia.
The operations are targeted to start after the Holy Week.
Inspection of Bohol Ports for Holy Week
Meanwhile, Department of Transportation (DOTr) Secretary Arthur Tugade did not go easy on some management and crew of passenger ships during a round of inspection at various seaports in Bohol province for Oplan Biyaheng Ayos: Semana Santa 2018.
Tugade, along with port officials, visited the ports of Tagbilaran and Tubigon to check on the facilities, passengers, and operation centers stationed at the ports in anticipation of passenger influx this Holy Week.
While inspecting the Tubigon Port, Tugade boarded the Aleson shipping vessel and found no life vests accessible to passengers. He immediately ordered DOTr maritime officials to coordinate with MARINA and report what they have witnessed.
MARINA, in turn, immediately directed the Aleson shipping management to direct their personnel to strictly follow safety guidelines, and place life jackets under the seats for easy access in case of an emergency.
The transportation chief expressed his dismay over what he has witnessed, and noted that the vessel seemed to compromise the safety and comfort of passengers. This prompted Tugade to order the Maritime Industry Authority (MARINA) to conduct further inspection on the ship.
Meanwhile, during his visit at the Tagbilaran Port Passenger Terminal Building, Tugade was quick to point out that one of the air-conditioning units was turned off, making passengers uncomfortable.
“Bakit patay aircon dito? I-on niyo yan! Naiinitan mga tao,” Tugade said.
Personnel from the Philippine Ports Authority (PPA), Philippine Coast Guard (PCG), and the Philippine National Police (PNP) were on alert status to man the passenger assistance centers at the Tagbilaran Port for further assistance.
A Port Integrated Clearing Office (PICO) was also established and is now operational at the port. This is a PWD-friendly facility which will run by a quality management system process for all vessel entrance clearance transactions.
Roro ramp back-up areas at the port are now almost complete and will be ready for operations on the first week of April.
On their way to Tubigon Port, Tugade halted a smoke-belching passenger jeepney that was also overloaded with passengers.
“Boss, kausapin nga kita sandali. Kasi, hindi ka lang overloaded kanina noong nakita ka namin, smoke-belcher ka pa! Kawawa mga pasahero mo. Kawawa ang Bohol dahil ang ganda ganda pero sinisira mo dahil sa usok mo. ‘Wag ganun”, Tugade said to the jeepney driver.
Earlier today, Tugade also inspected the progress of the New Bohol Airport in Panglao and ordered the Project Management Officers to make sure that the airport is operational by August 2018. (source: DOTr)