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Belmonte backs fixed salaries for bus driver

/ 06:28 AM December 19, 2013

Speaker Feliciano Belmonte. INQUIRER FILE PHOTO

MANILA, Philippines—Speaker Feliciano Belmonte on Wednesday lent his support to the revived proposals to require operators of public utility vehicles to provide drivers with fixed salaries, in the belief that this would prevent them from speeding, overtaking or driving recklessly.

But Belmonte said such a move should be coupled with a prohibition against drivers being made to work continuously for long hours, which he said could cause fatigue making them prone to accidents.

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The Speaker said he would ask the House labor committee to look into such proposals.

Belmonte noted that when he chaired the Jeepney Wage Board years ago, he found that the boundary system—in which drivers pay the jeepney operators a fixed amount and are allowed to keep whatever they earn beyond the boundary fee—proved to be a problem.

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Boundary system

“We found that unless you change the boundary system, there was no way you can prevent people working for 13 to 15 hours,” he told reporters.

Other measures pending in the House may pave the way for a broader approach to ensure road safety and secure the welfare of motorists and pedestrians.

Focus on transportation safety has been renewed following the grim accident involving a passenger bus that plunged off the Skyway in Parañaque and landed on a van, killing 18 people.

Initial reports indicated that the passenger bus had worn-out tires and was allegedly speeding on the highway. Its driver is still in critical condition.

Highway safety program

One proposed legislation, filed by party-list members Francisco Ashley Acedillo and Gary Alejano (Magdalo), seeks to put in place a “strategic highway safety program” to reduce traffic fatalities and injuries.

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The proposed program, to be developed by the Department of Transportation and Communications, involves analyzing national, regional and local crash data to identify hazardous areas and to determine and eliminate or reduce the factors that lead to accidents.

The projects to be undertaken under the program include the installation of skid-resistant surfaces at intersections or accident-prone areas, removal of roadside obstacles, installation of guardrails and other crash attenuators, installation of warning devices in high-risk areas, construction of traffic calming features, and improvement of highway signages and pavement markings.

Transport safety

Muntinlupa Rep. Rodolfo Biazon has proposed the creation of a National Safety and Transportation Board to promote transport safety, independently investigate transportation accidents, and formulate safety improvement regulations.

Biazon’s bill is being deliberated on by the House committees on government reorganization and transportation.

According to Biazon, this independent board was necessary because the current regulatory agencies involved in the transport agency cannot be expected to conduct a thorough and impartial investigation of any major accident because they themselves may be liable for the improper implementation of safety rules and regulations.

“No government agency can properly perform such function unless it is totally separate and independent from any other department, bureau, commission or agency,” he said.

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TAGS: Congress, Feliciano Belmonte, fixed salaries, Labor, Road Transport
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