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Safe Travel Alliance commends swift Senate action

The Safe Travel Alliance commended the Senate Committee on Public Services chaired by Senator Grace Poe for the early action on Senate Bills creating the National Transportation Safety Board.

Senator Poe sponsored Senate Bill 1077 in plenary this week before Congress went on recess.

In her sponsorship speech, Senator Poe, who is also the principal author of the NTSB bill, highlighted that at present, the country has no single and autonomous body that is responsible for investigating transport-related accidents. Transport agencies perform multiple and conflicting functions as regulators, operators, and investigators. According to Poe, “

The Metro Manila Accident and Recording Analysis System, developed and operated by the Metro Manila Development Authority, showed that in 2018, a total of 116,906 road accidents occurred. The same number is equivalent to 320 accidents per day or 13 accidents per hour. A 2018 report made by the World Health Organization on Road Safety indicated that road accident resulting to injuries cost about 2.6 percent (%) of the country’s gross domestic product. Another study conducted by the University of the Philippines in 2005 revealed that a single road accident can cost up to PhP3.47 million damage to property.

In 2017 alone, 317 lives were lost and 11,378 individuals injured on road accidents in Metro Manila while 1,540 deceased due to maritime accidents. In 2018, 394 deaths were recorded resulting from road-related accidents.

During her sponsorship speech, Sen Poe said, “SB 1077 recognizes that without an institution and a governing body leading the way towards the conduct of research, formulation, enactment, adoption, and implementation of generally accepted international standards on road safety, including best practices, all previously enacted measures will be rendered insufficient.

[H]alimbawa na lang: isang bus na luma, nawalan ng preno, hindi maganda ang maintenance, ang mismong nag-iimbestiga ay ‘yun din ang nagbigay ng permit sa bus na ‘yon na makapagbiyahe. Ito po ‘yung LTO, so kung ang LTO din ang mag-iimbestiga, siyempre mahihirapan din tayong siguraduhing walang conflict of interest.”

 “Transportation mishaps exact an appalling toll in terms of death, injuries, medical costs and damaged properties. Behind these are the social costs of grief and sufferings of the victims and their families that are hard to quantify,” she stressed dapat na kung kailan may aksidente, doon pa lamang tayo kikilos. Policy recommendations should be based on facts and thorough research; not on knee-jerk reactions and band-aid solutions.”

 NTSB’s mandate allows its officials to be proactive and be in the control of the situation even before it happens rather than just responding to an accident which already happened and can no longer be prevented. The importance of prevention and avoidance of transportation-related accidents through the promotion of transportation safety and establishment of a government agency tasked to promote safety and efficiency in the transportation of people, property and goods, is on a higher pedestal than merely treating the wounded and compensating the damage and lives lost.

The Senate action was praised by the Safe Travel Alliance composed of stakeholders advocating for safer transportation system and safer movement of people in the Philippines.

According to Safe Travel Alliance convenor Dr. Cherry Lyn Rodolfo, “Safety and security are key pillars of seamless mobility of people and goods. Through this institutional reform, we seek to elevate the standards of transportation safety measures, prevent transportation accidents in the future, and mitigate dangers to human lives and property. Tourism will strongly benefit from safe, secure and seamless travel.” Based on the Philippine Tourism Satellite Accounts, tourism’s contribution to the Philippine economy is 12.7 percent in 2018 and generated 13% of total employment.

According to Eric Lazarte, National Chairperson of the Philippine Advocates for Road Safety and a partner of Safe Travel Alliance, “similar transportation accidents and incidents should not happen more than once. Instead, these accidents should serve as lessons that would result to elevate the safety standards of our country’s transportation system.”

Clothed with sufficient power and authority to conduct investigations in determining the cause of transportation accidents, NTSB is an independent and impartial transport safety body tasked to coordinate all the actions of relevant public and private entities toward the common goal of ensuring transport safety. It has the power to investigate transportation related accidents on land, sea, air, and pipeline systems and it may initiate and conduct special studies on matters pertaining to transportation safety, among others.

Bills on the National Transportation Safety Board have been languishing in the legislature for over two decades. The Safe Travel Alliance is hopeful that the NTSB can finally be enacted in the 18th Congress.

SB 1077 under Committee Report No. 8 is the consolidation of Senate Bills (SB) Nos. 125 and 651 authored by Senators Poe and Ramon “Bong” Revilla, Jr., respectively.

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Written by eduy

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