Megaworld transport hub is legal – councilor

A POINT-TO-POINT bus operated by Southwest Travel and Tours leaves the Megaworld transport hub at Iloilo Business Park in Mandurriao, Iloilo City. (Emme Rose Santiagudo)

By: Emme Rose Santiagudo

THE Sangguniang Panlungsod of Iloilo City on Tuesday declared the operations of the Megaworld Transport Hub in Mandurriao district as “legal.”

In his committee report, Councilor Rommel Duron, chairman committee on transportation, energy, and public utilities, emphasized that the operations of the Megaworld Transport Hub was backed with Regulation Ordinance No. 2019-110 or the ordinance granting Megaworld Corporation the authority to construct, establish, operate and maintain a transport hub in Iloilo Business Park.

“It must be emphasized that the operation of the Megaworld Transport Hub was clothed with legal color by virtue of Regulation Ordinance No. 2019-110. This ordinance has binding effect, general application and presumed valid, unless and until there is contrary pronouncement from the proper authorities as to its invalidity or what it is repealed or amended by subsequent legislation by Sanggunian concerned,” Mr. Duron said in his committee report.

According to Duron, they adopted the opinion of the City Legal Office (CLO) which also vouched for the legality and validity of the Megaworld Transport Hub.

“We referred it to the City Legal Office (CLO), the opinion of the CLO is it is legal and valid. The City Council can amend the ordinance they previously approved or even repeal it if it there are illegal contentions but the City Legal said it’s valid so we adopted their opinion in our committee report,” he said.

Several transport groups questioned the operations of point-to-point (P2P) buses from the Megaworld Transport Hub in Mandurriao district to Iloilo International Airport in Cabatuan town and vice versa.

The New Iloilo Airport Transport Association and Association (NIATA) and the Association of Taxi Operators in Panay (ATOP) vehemently opposed the provisional authority granted by the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) to Southwest Travel and Tours to operate three routes:  Iloilo City to Iloilo International Airport; Iloilo City to Caticlan; and Iloilo City to Kalibo.

According to NIATA and ATOP, the provisional authority granted to Southwest Tours violated the Perimeter Boundary Ordinance of the City of Iloilo which supposedly mandates the control and regulation of the entry of public utility jeepneys (PUJs), cargo vans and jeepneys and buses from Iloilo province and other neighboring provinces.

The transport groups cited Regulation Ordinance No. 2019-110 which did not exempt P2P buses from its provisions.

But according to Duron, P2P buses are included in Section 2 of the ordinance which states that the “Transport Hub” as herein shall be used exclusively for and limited only to UV Express, Tourist and Chartered Vans and Bus and Shuttle Buses.

“On this note, it is the interpretation of this office that the term ‘buses’ must necessarily include P2P buses. The definition of the term used by law remains the same although the latter has its own specific point of embarkation and point of destination that is the Iloilo International Airport to Megaworld Transport Hub and vice versa. To contend that the term buses do not include P2P buses is not only ridiculous but would even unduly limit the clear language or term used in the same ordinance,” he said in his committee report.

Duron argued that the operations of P2P buses are not contributing to the traffic in the city and instead provides convenience to the passengers particularly the tourists.

“Perimeter Boundary Ordinance was passed to decongest the traffic but current P2P (buses) cannot directly cause traffic because of their limited frequency but if they do so, we will still regulate it in the council,” he added.

Those who will disagree with the committee report can argue their contentions on court, Duron furthered.

“Well, if you do not agree with the committee report and aggrieved sila then they can go to the court. But because of the fast development here, what we are trying to do is to balance the investment of the investors and the public welfare,” he noted.

After the committee report, Duron said that they will pass a route ordinance that will prescribe the specific route for the P2P buses.