Nat’l transport safety board pushed
Sen. Grace Poe on Tuesday renewed her pitch for the creation of a National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) in the wake of a road crash on Christmas Day in Agoo, La Union, that killed 20 people and injured 26 others.
Poe, chair of the Senate committee on public services, said the country needed more than ever an independent government agency that would investigate and closely monitor civil transportation accidents in order to address flaws that result in so much loss of lives.
She also urged authorities to conduct an exhaustive investigation on the Agoo accident and ensure that the injured and the families of those who were killed were given full assistance.
“We are deeply saddened by the deaths and injuries of passengers in the tragic road accident in La Union,” said Poe. “This is a reminder to all Filipinos traveling during the holidays to exercise extreme precaution when on the road to prevent accidents like this.”
Twenty people, including seven children, were killed on Monday when a passenger bus collided head-on with the jeepney they were riding on their way to Christmas Mass in Agoo.
Initial investigation showed that the jeepney was trying to overtake another vehicle when it crashed into a Partas bus on the northbound lane of the Manila North Road in Barangay San Jose. Nineteen were killed on the spot.
Poe filed a bill in June last year seeking to create the NTSB, which will be solely responsible for investigating recurring accidents and determining the probable cause of transportation-related accidents on land, sea and air, including railway and pipeline systems.
Under Senate Bill No. 162, the agency’s mandate also include conducting safety inspections on land, sea and air transportation and assessing existing practices and policies related to the transportation sector.
“The list of transportation-related injuries and casualties grows longer day by day,” said Poe in filing the bill last year.
She also cited the World Health Organization’s World Report on Road Traffic Injury Prevention, saying that human suffering for victims and the families of road traffic-related injuries are “incalculable” and bring about “endless repercussions,” causing families to break up and bringing high counseling costs for the bereaved relatives.
7 buses suspended
As this developed, the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) preventively suspended seven Partas buses after the bus line failed to turn over on Tuesday noon data which would help authorities in its investigation into the deadly road crash.
According to LTFRB board member Aileen Lizada, instead of the dashcam card and GPS data, Partas submitted to them on Tuesday the closed-circuit television camera footage inside the bus, which she pointed out would “not help us resolve the road crash.”
“What we need is the footage from the dashcam. Under the law, there is a doctrine of last clear chance. [The footage] will help the board see who has the last clear chance to avoid the accident,” Lizada said.
Lizada said that the preventive suspension of seven of Partas’ 187 buses was for its failure to comply with their order to turn over its data, 36 hours after the crash.
Partas’ franchise in question covered the Pagudpud, Ilocos Norte-Sampaloc, Manila, route.
Based on their earlier text exchange with Partas management, Lizada said it claimed that as of Monday night, it had yet to recover the bus’ dash cam.
32 killed nationwide
Meanwhile, the LTFRB called on operators and drivers of public utility vehicles (PUV) on Tuesday to be more cautious on the road, especially after 32 persons were killed in at least four vehicular accidents nationwide over the Christmas holiday.
Lizada said they had instructed their regional offices to remind PUV operators of their responsibility to ensure the safety of their passengers.
She warned that anyone’s franchise could be preventively suspended in the event of a road crash, especially when it is found that he was at fault.
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