SOURCE: Press and Public Affairs Bureau
A lawmaker has proposed the creation of a new transportation body similar to the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) of the United States to handle investigations, analysis, evaluation and prevention of air, highway and marine transportation accidents.
Rep. Nelson Dayanghirang (1st District, Davao Oriental), author of House Bill 2463, said the proposed National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) shall conduct regular studies of transportation safety procedures and making improvement suggestions to transportation officials and Congress when necessary.
Dayanghirang said the NTSB would be the primary government body to investigate aircraft, highway, railway and marine transportation accidents including passenger train, pipeline accidents in which there are fatalities.
According to Dayanghirang, the current regulatory agencies in the transport industry cannot be expected to conduct a thorough and impartial investigation on any major accidents "for the simple that they themselves are liable due to the improper or lack proper knowledge in implementing the law."
Dayanghirang cited several major catastrophes that occurred in the country in the past years.
"A public utility bus with passenger was washed away into a river in Isabela province by rampaging floodwaters. The most recent tragedy that hit the transportation industry was the crash landing into the waters of Manila Bay of Laoag City Airlines Fokker plane where at least 14 people died," Dayanghirang said.
Dayanghirang said some of the most major sea tragedies in the country are the sinking of M/V Dona Paz in December 1987 where 4,000 people perished, the death of 250 passengers in the sinking of M/V Dona Marilyn in October 1988, the sinking of M/V Princess of the Orient in September 1998 where some 150 persons died and the cargo vessel Anahanda, which sank in Jolo in April 2000 killing 150 people.
Dayanghirang also cited the death of some 116 passengers of Super Ferry 14, which was allegedly bombed by Islamist militants in February 2004.
Dayanghirang said there is a need for an independent government agency, separate from any other department, bureau or agency, to promote transportation safety and conduct independent investigations of accidents.
The bill will create the Office of the Aviation Safety, the primary task of which is to conduct investigation of all aviation accidents, determine the probable cause of accidents, and initiate safety recommendation to prevent future accidents, as well as conduct special investigations into selected aviation accidents involving safety issues of concerns.
Likewise, the bill will also create the Office of Surface Transportation Safety, which shall conduct investigations of highway, railroad, marine, pipelines and hazardous materials accidents, determine the probable cause of accidents and to initiate recommendations to prevent future transportation accidents.
Dayanghirang said the recent disasters are testaments to the inadequate response of the government towards prevention of similar catastrophes. "These tragedies could have been avoided had government initiated proactive measures designed to ensure safety consciousness among the owners of public utilities as well as the regulatory agencies mandated to monitor their operations," Dayanghirang said.
Dayanghirang said the bill will also ensure that the survivors and families of the victims of transportation accidents receive timely assistance from the operators, other government agencies.