Senator Grace Poe reminded the Land Transportation Office (LTO) and the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) to inspect public transportation and ensure vehicles’ roadworthiness in the wake of the recent bus tragedy in Mindoro that claimed the lives of 19 people.
“Yung safety ng mga bus, mga preno nila, mga ilaw – lahat ‘yan huwag natin i-shortcut. Paalala rin sa LTFRB at sa LTO na talagang kailangang masusi ang pag-iinspeksyon,” Poe, chairperson of the Senate committee on public services, told reporters in a chance interview.
The legislator also expressed sympathies to the families of those who perished in the tragedy involving a Dimple Star bus that lost control and fell into a ravine in Sablayan, Occidental Mindoro.
This developed as transport regulators are issuing temporary permits to bus firms in preparation for the Holy Week exodus.
The lawmaker also renewed her call for the immediate approval of Senate Bill No. 1637 creating the National Transport Safety Board that would improve transport safety in the country. The bill is in the advanced period of interpellations in the Senate and is up for second reading.
“Dito sa atin sa Senado matatapos na ang period of interpellation. Hinihikayat natin ang mababang kapulungan na samahan din tayo na maipasa na ito kasi ang importante dito hindi lamang ‘yung imbestigasyon kung bakit nangyari kundi ‘yung prevention ng mga aksidente,” the lady senator added.
In pushing for the measure, Poe said road fatalities are one of the leading causes of death in the country. “Wala naman tayong talagang NTSB, na ang titingnan lang ay kaligtasan at ang responsibilidad nitong mga public utility vehicles. Dapat doon lang nakatutok ang isang ahensya sa kaligtasan ng mga ito,” she said.
In her previous statement, Poe said the NTSB will act as the transportation safety ombudsman who can raise the alarm on accidents waiting to happen. She said the Mindoro bus accident “reminded us once again about how public transportation in the country can be so dangerous.”
“Sadly, the list of tragic road accidents and their casualties continue to increase because vehicles that are not roadworthy or even those we label as rolling coffins are still allowed to ply the roads with near impunity.
There is a jumble of transport agencies, but there is no ‘go-to agency’ that will be able to unravel and explain major transportation accidents.
“The missing link in these accident prevention measures is the NTSB. There is a jumble of transport agencies, but there is no ‘go-to agency’ that will be able to unravel and explain major transportation accidents,” Poe said.
Apart from strict inspection of public vehicles, she said transport regulators should see to it that it observes strict issuance of driver’s license and public vehicles follow regulations on the use of GPS and speed limiters, especially on buses.
“We should also see to it that the billions of pesos in car registration fees earmarked for road safety, such as railings and lights, end up in the streets installed, and not in private pockets,” Poe said.