The Joint Foreign Chambers, which represents over 3,000 member companies, urged Congress to ratify the reconciled version of a bill that would create an agency in charge of probing transportation-related accidents and other incidents.
The JFC believes the establishment of the Philippine Transportation Safety Board is meant to fill a gap in the bureaucracy which allegedly contributes to inefficiency in the implementation of transportation-safety schemes and ineffectual safety measures being addressed. The PTSB’s regulatory, investigatory and fact-finding functions will allow the agency to implement a proactive approach and be in control of the situation even before it happens.
The JFC is a coalition of the American, Australian-New Zealand, Canadian, European, Japanese and Korean chambers, representing member companies engaged in around $100 billion worth of trade and some $30 billion worth of investments in the Philippines.
Presently, different agencies handle different sectors of transportation with regard to accident investigations. For example, sea mishaps are under the Maritime Industry Authority while road crashes that involve public utility vehicles fall under the jurisdiction of the Land Transportation and Franchising Regulatory Board. Other road accidents may be investigated by the Philippine National Police, the Land Transportation Office, or even the Metro Manila Development Authority.
“The PTSB bill has been repeatedly filed since 2004 and has languished in Congress for almost two decades,” the JFC rued in a previous statement.
The measure seeks the creation of a nonregulatory and independent agency attached to the Office of the President, which would then be the primary agency responsible for the conduct of impartial investigation on transportation-related incidents.
The disparate and disjointed approach with regard transportation safety is one of the reasons why the sector remains generally inefficient and unsafe in the country. It is interesting that the JFC, a group of foreign businessmen, are pushing for a PTSB while most Filipinos are seemingly uninterested, despite the loss of lives and limbs to transport-related accidents and incidents.
Transportation is more than just building roads and ports and allowing vehicles to use such infrastructure. Putting up and funding a PTSB that can help make the country’s transportation system safer and improve efficiency, providing better value to the act of simply building more roads and ports that turn out to be unsafe and inefficient.
In the light of the MV Mercraft 2 incident where seven souls perished after it caught fire off the waters of Real, Quezon it should be about time the Philippines has one.*