Sen. Grace Poe said she is poised to recommend remedial legislation that will create a National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) that will conduct independent investigations on transport-related accidents on land, air, maritime and rail.
Poe, chairperson of the Senate committee on public services that opened an inquiry into the deadly bus tragedy in Tanay, Rizal last month that killed 15 people including several college students, said the passage of a measure seeking to establish an independent and non-regulatory panel to make transportation safer is very timely following the findings that separate regulatory and law enforcement agencies and even non-government organizations were involved in the investigation of the Tanay bus crash.
“The current setup is so incoherent. There is no primary agency tasked to investigate all of these accidents,” Poe said during the three-hour hearing.
Poe filed Senate Bill No. 162 or the NTSB Act that will form a board tasked to investigate accidents involving transportation, such as aircraft, highway accidents, railroads, pipelines, and major marine accidents. Under the measure, the board will be headed by a chairman to be appointed by the President. Each member of the board must have at least three years of experience in administering, operating or managing a transport firm or regulatory agency in land, air, sea, or rail transportation. It is an independent body that will conduct studies on transport safety and report to Congress, the President and concerned state agencies on how to make transportation safer.
“Walang protocol itong mga ahensya. Walang malinaw kung sino ang first responders o kung dapat ba ang mga sumasamang guro sa field trip ay dapat may first aid training. With an NTSB, you have a body to conduct special studies and recommend the proper protocol to be followed by other agencies,” Poe said.
Senate probers were also told that for maritime accidents, the Philippine Coast Guard forms a Board of Marine Inquiry to probe sea mishaps while the Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines creates an Aircraft Accident Investigation and Inquiry Board for aviation accidents.
“What we learned from our hearing is that we really need to have an NTSB. Hindi puwedeng imbestigahan ang sarili nila sapagkat may conflict of interest,” said Poe, adding that the NTSB will address the conflicting functions of investigating agencies, particularly on transport mishaps.
Poe said her committee will prepare a report to be submitted to the plenary upon resumption of session in May. Congress will adjourn on March 18 until May 1.
“Yung sistema ay palpak dahil hindi natin nalalaman kung anong edad ng mga sasakyan natin dahil nadadaya sa registration. Palpak din yung naging desisyon ng paaralan na hindi maglagay ng guro na kasama ng kanyang mga estudyante sa kanilang field trip. Nakita rin natin na problema din na kulang tayo sa safety equipment para ma-check yung ating mga bus kung maaayos ba o hindi. Kulang tayo ng motor vehicle inspection system. So lahat iyan, sa tingin ko ang nagiging problema dito ay wala tayong investigative body na nagrerekomenda kung ano ang dapat gawin para maging ligtas ang ating mga kababayan,” Poe later told reporters.