The Quezon City Regional Trial Court Branch 219 on Monday dismissed a petition for injunction asking that the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) be restrained from implementing Memorandum Circular No. 2020-019 which sets the rules on the resumption of limited public transportation in Metro Manila under a general community quarantine (GCQ).
The petition for the issuance of a preliminary injunction and a temporary restraining order filed on 5 June 2020 by Ariel Inton, the former head of the Quezon City Task Force for Transport and Traffic Management and founder of the Lawyers for Commuters Safety and Protection, was ordered dismissed by Presiding Judge Janet Abergos-Samar in a 17-page decision.
In her decision, Judge Abergos-Samar ruled that Inton’s petition should be dismissed on the ground that he is not a real party in interest and that he had failed to state a cause of action.
In his petition, Inton challenged the validity of MC 2020-019 which covers the existing certificates of public convenience for public utility buses operating in the National Capital Region (NCR) and created 31 “rationalized bus routes.”
The LTFRB implemented MC 2020-019 when the NCR was placed under GCQ on 1 June 2020 and the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-EID) allowed the resumption of limited public transportation.
Inton filed the petition in “his personal capacity” and asked the court to issue an injunction valid for 72 hours against the LTFRB. Inton asked the court to restrain the LTFRB from implementing MC 2020-019 for lack of publication and a lack of notice and hearing on its issuance.
In his petition, Inton argued that rules and regulations are required to be published in the Official Gazette or in a newspaper of general circulation. He argued that the mere positing of MC 2020-019 in the LTFRB’s official website or social media account and its submission to the Office of the National Register is an inadequate compliance to the rules.
Inton further argued that with the issuance of MC 2020-019, the rights of commuters such as himself, as well as the rights of holders of previously issued certificates of public convenience or franchises had been violated as there was no notice and hearing on the issuance of the memorandum circular.
In its answer, the LTFRB questioned Inton’s legal standing to file the petition arguing that he is neither a real party-in-interest or a representative of a real-party-in interest. The LTFRB further argued that Inton’s petition is moot as special permits have already been granted to city bus operators.
In its decision, the court ruled that Inton is not a real-party-in-interest as he never alleged that he was a holder of a certificate of public convenience for public utility buses operating in the National Capital Region, which will be affected by the enforcement of MC 2020-019.
“He is thus not entitled to avail of the present petition,” the court ruled.
The court added that Inton, in his judicial affidavit, clarified that he did not file the petition in behalf of the Lawyers for Commuters’ Safety and Protection.
The court in dismissing Inton’s petition, also ruled that the petition states no cause of action.
“Petitioner did not allege that he is a holder or franchisee of certificate of public convenience for a public utility bus/es whose route/s will be allegedly modified/amended by MC No. 2020-019. Not having been granted a certificate of public convenience for a public utility bus, it cannot be said that his right under the public franchise was violated by respondent (LTFRB) in the implementation of MC No. 2020-019. Obviously, the 3 essential elements of a cause of action are not present,” the court said in its decision.
The court also ruled against Inton’s allegation of an absence of publication of MC 2020-019.
“Petitioner merely surmised that MC No. 2020-019 was not published, simply because its effectivity clause never mentioned that a publication was in fact conducted,” the court said in its decision.
In its decision, the court said the LTFRB sufficiently showed during the 14 July 2020 hearing of the petition that MC 2020-019 was actually published in the 17 May 2020 issue of the Manila Bulletin and that prior to its issuance, notices were sent by the LTFRB, and a hearing was conducted.
“Notably, petitioner never made even the slightest attempt to present evidence to the contrary,” the court decision said.
“In fine, the instant Petition should be dismissed on the ground that petitioner is not a real party in interest and for failure of the petitioner to state a cause of action,” the court decision added.