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SEPARATE TRANSPORT BOARD TO IMPROVE ROAD SAFETY – POE

Senator Grace Poe endorsed the approval of the proposed National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) Act, in a move seen to improve transport safety in the country.

“The enactment of the National Transport Safety Board Act will be the first step towards safer roads for all Filipinos. Sana umabot tayo sa punto na sa lumang sine na lang tayo makakakita ng mga kuma-karambolang sasakyan. Let’s leave transport accidents on the big screen, as the outdated legacy of a bygone, more hazardous era,” said Poe in sponsoring Senate Bill No. 1637 recently.

Let’s leave transport accidents on the big screen, as the outdated legacy of a bygone, more hazardous era.

“The NTSB can save lives. Hindi dapat na kung kailan may aksidente ay doon pa lamang tayo kikilos. Policy recommendations should be based on facts and thorough research and not on knee-jerk reactions and band-aid solutions,” the legislator added.

The lawmaker’s bill seeks to consolidate overlapping efforts and mandates of various agencies in relation to investigating civil transportation accidents, as she said “compounding the situation is our convoluted governance of the transport sector.”

Compounding the situation is our convoluted governance of the transport sector.

For one, Poe cited six local government units and four government agencies – the Land Transportation Office (LTO), Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB), Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) and the Philippine National Police-Highway Patrol Group (PNP-HPG) have jurisdiction over buses which pass through EDSA. “These agencies deal only with aspects of road safety, but not with road safety per se.”

The proposal also seeks to address the “conflicting responsibilities” of the Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines (CAAP) as a regulator, operator and investigator of air traffic incidents, which “have made the agency weak as a regulator and ineffective as an operator of airports.”

“A separate bill is needed to amend the CAAP law. However, with regard to the investigative aspect of air traffic incidents, it is the NTSB that should have jurisdiction for the purpose of making timely and comprehensive safety recommendations. This will be separate from the findings of the CAAP, since the NTSB will be an independent and non-regulatory agency mandated to determine the probable cause of transportation-related incidents,” she said.

In pushing for the measure’s approval, Poe said there were 109,322 road accidents in 2016, which translates to about 300 accidents daily, or 12 per hour. A total of 22,000 lives were lost due to road accidents in 2016, according to official data.

There were 109,322 road accidents in 2016, which translates to about 300 accidents daily, or 12 per hour. A total of 22,000 lives were lost due to road accidents in 2016.

She added a road accident “carries a hefty price tag” and can cost up to P3.47 million in terms of damage to property and lost productivity.

Poe also called for stricter implementation of road safety laws and more stringent rules governing the issuance of driver’s licenses.

“Nakakapanghinayang na maaaring iwasan ang karamihan ng mga aksidente sa Maynila. Halimbawa, ayon sa datos ng MMDA, driver error ang sanhi ng 80% ng aksidente sa Maynila. Marami sigurong buhay ang maisasalba kung hihigpitan ang pagbibigay ng lisensya at ang paghuli sa mga hindi sumusunod sa batas trapiko,” she said.

The NTSB will be a seven-member board which will investigate air, highway, railroad, pipeline and maritime accidents. The result of such investigation will be submitted to Congress within 60 days from completion.

The NTSB will also proactively conduct studies on making the transport sector as safe as possible. As such, the board will look into the causes and determinants of accidents and help craft policies for their prevention.

Poe assured that the proposed independent transport probe body will not be reduced to a mere paper tiger.

“Bibigyan natin sila ng sapat na pangil na imbestigahan ang mga aksidente. Halimbawa, bibigyan natin ng visitorial power ang NTSB para makapasok sila sa lugar na may nangyaring aksidente. Maaari rin nilang suriin ang ano mang parte o component ng motor vehicle, vessel, aircraft o pipeline na naging sanhi ng aksidente,” the senator said.

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