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Bataan mini buses torn between safety and livelihood over new law

BALANGA CITY, Bataan – Mini bus drivers and operators are conflicted over a provincial ordinance that will take effect this week here.

The local law, which sets speed limits for all kinds of vehicles along Bataan highways, will apply to those plying the Roman Highway, JJ Linao Avenue and the Hermosa and Dinalupihan portion of the Jose Abad Santos Avenue or JASA Road, formerly Olongapo- Gapan Road.

The Metro Bataan Development Authority (MBDA), an agency attached to the provincial government of Bataan, is the office assigned to enforce the ordinance.

Charlie Pizzaro Jr., MBDA general manager

“Full implementation na po tayo manghuhuli na po tayo wala pong patawad dahil buhay po ang isinasalba natin dito (We will now be in full implementation of this ordinance. We will apprehend the violators to save more lives),” MBDA general manager Charlie Pizarro Jr. said.

But for bus dispatcher Federico Guanzon, it will greatly affect the income of their members.

“Okay yan kasi sila ang batas eh. Pero may batas din yung cooperative namin. May running time kaming sinusunod. Pag na-late kami may multa: P25 per minute (It’s okay, they are the ones who enforce the law but we also have our own law in our cooperative. We have penalties, if we fail to beat our running time the fine is P25 per minute),” Guanzon said.

Guanzon is in charge of dispatching buses for the Balanga-Olongapo mini bus route traversing Roman Highway and JASA Road.

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Federico Guanzon, bus dispatcher

Buses in his cooperative have a designated “running time,” or the timeframe that a bus needs to travel so it could arrive where their bundy clock or time recorder is at a designated time.

This system forces the bus driver to always be in a hurry to beat the running time especially when a rival bus company is also traveling along his route.

Maganda yun una sa kaligtasan ng pasahero, yun lang male-late nga lang kami. Magbabayad kami pero sa kaligtasan ng pasahero yan eh, batas naman ng kooperatiba namin [itong running time] (It’s good for the safety of our commuters but we will be late for our running time and we will be fined. But that’s for the safety of the commuters while [the one about the running time] is our cooperative’s law),” Roy Roque, a bus driver and a member of Guanzon’s group, said.

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Roy Roque, mini bus driver

Another bus transport group plying the Balanga City-Mariveles route fines their driver as high as P100 per minute for failure to beat their assigned running time.

Mariveles is home to the country’s first economic zone, the Bataan Export Processing Zone. Now called the Freeport Area of Bataan, it has almost 40,000 workers employed in 127 manufacturing firms. Most of these workers are bus and jeepney commuters.

High volume of vehicular and pedestrian traffic in this area could be the reason why there are frequent road crashes along this route.

Bataan Provincial Ordinance No. 4, Series of 2016 lays down the the rate of speed for all types of motor vehicles within the boundaries of Bataan highways.

Public utility vehicles or PUVs such as jeepneys, buses, UV Express, taxis and other similar vehicles can only go as fast as 70 km/hr. The minimum speed is 40 km/hr.

For private cars like Asian UVs, SUVs and other similar vehicles, the maximum speed is 80 km/hr while the minimum is 60 km/hr.

Trucks, tankers, trailers, dump trucks, cargo trucks, closed vans, transit mixers and other similar vehicles should not go beyond 50 km/hr nor below 40 km/hr. These speed rates apply whether these types of vehicles are loaded or not.

Motorcycles, tricycles, kulong-kulong or three wheeled vehicles without ceiling used in vegetables and meat deliveries, the maximum speed allowed is 60 km/hr and 40km/hr minimum.

Pizarro said they conducted a series of public consultations with transport sector groups before the ordinance was passed.

A 1964 law, Republic Act 4136 or the Land Transportation and Traffic Code, lays down the allowable speed limits throughout the country and imposes sanctions on reckless driving.

Local ordinances should not set maximum speed limits higher than those found in the law. Minimum speed limit however could go below what it says.

Speed Limits under the Land Transportation and Traffic Code:


The provincial ordinance was passed last December 2016 amid an increasing number of vehicular crashes in the area.

This story was produced under the Bloomberg Initiative Global Road Safety Media Fellowship implemented by the World Health Organization, Department of Transportation and VERA Files.