Key players in the transportation industry have urged Congress to expedite the ratification of a reconciled bill proposing the creation of a non-regulatory Philippine Transportation Safety Board (PTSB) and send it to Malacanang for President Duterte’s signature.
Meanwhile, Sen. Grace Poe commended the enactment of new laws that she sponsored to improve telecommunications and transportation services.
In a letter sent to both houses of the legislature, the Joint Foreign Chambers (JFC) called for the immediate ratification of the reconciled version of House Bill 9030 and Senate Bill 1077 seeking the establishment of the PTSB.
The Safe Travel Alliance, International Air Transport Association (IATA), and Air Carriers Association of the Philippines aired similar appeals to the lawmakers.
The JFC pointed out that the measure had been pending over the past 20 years, and only during the 18th Congress where it was passed.
The proposed law seeks the creation of a non-regulatory and independent probe body attached to the Office of the President, to serve as the primary agency responsible for the conduct of impartial investigations on transportation-related accidents and incidents.
The main objectives of the PTSB include improvement of transportation safety measures that will help in the prevention of transportation accidents and mitigation of dangers to human lives and property; and, to ensure the implementation of transportation safety standards.
At present, different agencies handle different sectors of the transportation industry with regard to accident investigations.
The Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines (CAAP), for instance, has authority over aviation disasters while the Maritime Industry Authority (Marina) is empowered to investigate major maritime disasters.
With respect to road accidents involving public utility vehicles, the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board has jurisdiction. However, road accidents may also be investigated by the Philippine National Police, the Land Transportation Office, and the Metro Manila Development Authority.
The JFC stressed the need for institutional transportation reforms since the Philippines was generally dependent on inter-modal transportation systems to facilitate the movement of goods, cargo, and passengers across the country.
The reforms, the group noted, were needed to enhance the standards of transportation safety measures, prevent transportation accidents in the future, and mitigate dangers to human lives and property is mostly needed.
With the establishment of the PTSB, the gap in bureaucracy which allegedly contributes to inefficiency in the implementation of transportation-safety schemes and ineffectual safety- measures would be addressed.
According to the JFC, the PTSB’s regulatory, investigatory, and fact-finding functions will allow the agency to implement a proactive approach and be in control of situation even before it happens.
As an independent and impartial transport safety body, the PTSB will be tasked to coordinate all the actions of relevant public and private entities toward the common goal of ensuring transport safety.
With the upgrading or setting up of new Land Transportation Offices, Poe noted that the people will no longer have to travel far and bear long lines to get a license or have their vehicles registered.
“Telcos that have been granted franchises are expected to rise up to the challenge of proving their competence and capacity in providing Filipinos, especially in far-flung areas, with quality and affordable connectivity and communications,” said Poe, chairperson of the Senate committee on public services.
“We count that more job opportunities will become available in communities as services expand and enhance,” she added.
The government and private sector, she also stressed, must turn the corner to serve our people better and help them recover from the pandemic.