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Senate panel seeking plenary OK of transport safety board bill

/ 08:18 AM September 30, 2019

MANILA, Philippines — A bill that would create a National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) has been recommended for plenary approval.

The Senate Public Services Committee, headed by Senator Grace Poe, endorsed for plenary approval Senate Bill No. 1077, which was contained in Committee Report No. 8.

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The report, dated September 26, 2019, was signed by 13 senators.

In filing the report, Poe underscored the need for a sole agency that will focus on accident investigations.

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“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 said in a statement on Monday.

Under the bill, the NTSB would investigate all transportation-related accidents, determine compliance with safety standards, and conduct studies on transportation safety and improvement.

The findings of the board, Poe noted, would be used to appraise and assess existing practices and regulations of the government related to safety measures.

“The body will determine what can be done to improve regulations, training or certain aspects of the vehicle or the environment to prevent future accidents,” the senator said.

“The NTSB can save lives that should not be lost in the first place. It can avoid preventable accidents. It can avert injuries. It can keep properties intact. The NTSB is our road to safety,” she added.

The board would conduct independent investigations on air, highway, railroad, pipeline and maritime accidents, Poe said.

While it would have jurisdiction over such incidents, other government agencies may also conduct their own investigation, she added.

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The result of the investigation of the NTSB will be submitted to Congress within 60 days from completion.

The board, she said, would also proactively initiate and conduct studies on matters pertaining to safety in transportation.

It will gather, analyze and publish from time to time data and statistics on transportation crashes, accidents and incidents, she added.

Poe said the measure would appropriate an initial fund of P50 million for the board’s operations.

The NTSB, she explained, would be attached to the Office of the President and would have seven members headed by a chairperson.

Poe, meanwhile, assured that the NTSB would have adequate powers to fulfill its mandate.

It may conduct hearings, require the attendance and testimony of witnesses and the production of relevant documents, she said.

The representative would also be authorized by the NTSB may enter the scene of the incident as part of its investigation, she added.

“It should be the go-to body for conducting accurate, thorough and independent investigations and for producing timely and well-considered recommendations to improve transportation safety,” the senator said. /gsg

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