The enactment of the National Transport Safety Board (NTSB) Act would be the “first step towards safer roads for Filipinos,” Senator Grace Poe said as she endorsed its approval.
“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 Let’s leave transport accidents on the big screen, as the outdated legacy of a bygone, more hazardous era,” Poe said during her Wednesday’s sponsorship speech for Senate Bill No. 1637.
“The NTSB can save lives. Hindi dapat na kung kailan may aksidente e 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,” she added.
Poe, chair of the Senate public services committee, said the NTSB, a seven-member board which would investigate air, highway, railroad, pipeline and maritime accidents, would be a move to improve transport safety in the country.
She said it consolidates overlapping efforts and mandates of various agencies in relation to investigating civil transportation accidents.
For one, she 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.
But Poe pointed out that these agencies “deal only with aspects of road safety, but not with road safety per se.”
The senator said the measure 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 nonregulatory 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.
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.
Under the bill, the results of NTSB’s investigations would be submitted to Congress within 60 days from completion.
The body would also proactively conduct studies on making the transport sector as safe as possible. As such, the board would look into the causes and determinants of accidents and help craft policies for their prevention.
Poe made the assurance 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 anumang parte o component ng motor vehicle, vessel, aircraft, o pipeline na naging sanhi ng aksidente,” she said. /cbb
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