SOURCE: Press and Public Affairs Bureau
A veteran lawmaker has proposed the creation of the National Transportation and Safety Board (NTSB), an independent and non-regulatory agency that would promote transportation safety and conduct thorough and impartial investigations of transportation accidents.
"Recent transport tragedies have claimed so many innocent lives and inflicted so much damage to property. We have to act now to prevent such miseries from happening," declared Rep. Rodolfo Biazon, author of House Bill 04.
Biazon said the board shall continuously review, appraise, and assess the operating practices and regulations of all such regulatory agencies.
"The mission of the NTSB is to engage in the investigation and determination of probable cause of transportation accidents, issue safety recommendations and conduct special studies directed at preventing recurrence of such accidents and evaluation of the effectiveness of concerned government agencies in preventing transportation accidents," he said.
Biazon said when transportation accidents happen, investigations are normally undertaken by the very same government agencies that may have been "remiss in their duties in the first place."
"To address this problem and to advance transportation safety consciousness, there is an urgent need to create this independent board," Biazon stressed, adding that no government agency can properly perform such function unless it is totally separate and independent from any other department, bureau, commission or agency.
The board shall be composed of five full time members, including a chairman and a vice-chairman. The members of the board shall be appointed by the President of the Philippines for a term of six years. Of those first appointed, two members shall hold office for six years, two members for four years, and the last two for two years.
The board shall have extensive training and experience in the respective field of our marine, air, overland and rail transportation systems, and must have adequate knowledge in investigation, analysis, and evaluation of transportation accidents, particularly in the field of accident reconstruction, safety engineering, or transportation safety.
The board shall establish and maintain distinct and appropriately staffed bureaus, divisions, or offices to investigate and report on accidents involving each of the following modes of transportation to include aviation; maritime and overland including railroad and tracked vehicles.
Among the expressed duties of the board include issuance of periodic reports to Congress and government agencies concerned with transportation safety, make transportation safety recommendations to national agencies and private organization to reduce the likelihood of recurrences of accidents; and initiate special studies and investigations on matters pertaining to safety in transportation.
Likewise, the board has the power to cite for contempt any person in case of refusal to obey a subpoena.
"Appointment to any vacancy shall be only for the unexpired term of the predecessor, and in no case shall any member be appointed or designated in a temporary or acting capacity. Any member of the Board may be removed by the President for inefficiency, neglect of duty, malfeasance in office or any other legal cause," Biazon said.