When lives are at stake, it really doesn’t make sense for government to scrimp and save on taxpayers’ money.
After all, accidents, whether on land, sea or air, exact a heavy toll on human lives. Road mishaps, in particular, occur on a daily basis, with danger lurking at every turn due to human error or mechanical malfunction.
That’s why private sector groups have roused a howl over President Marcos’ decision to veto a bill creating an independent body to be tasked with improving transportation safety.
The Joint Foreign Chambers, Safe Travel Alliance and the International Airport Transport Association have collectively said the bill pushing for the establishment of the Philippine Transportation Safety Board (PTSB) would have resulted in better transportation safety measures and standards for the country.
Among the proposed mandates of the PTSB is to investigate transportation-related accidents.
“Presently, different agencies handle different sectors of transportation with regard to accident investigations, however, there are limitations on the ability of the investigating agencies to delve deeper and find forensic evidence on the real cause of the accidents or by witnesses of the accidents,” they said.
Marcos justified his veto of the PTSB measure by saying the proposed functions of the agency were already being “undertaken by different agencies.”
But private sector groups point out that the separate body is still needed because of concerns over conflict of interest.
Most of these agencies, after all, are also tasked to regulate and/or operate the sector, hence, there is an inherent conflict of interest in the performance of their duties as an investigating body.
The Move As One Coalition, in fact, agrees that PTSB would be beneficial for the transportation sector and commuters.
“Government agencies need to welcome independent and evidence-based feedback. Otherwise, we will just continue to hear a lot of ‘victim blaming’ from our transportation and traffic officials – poor discipline, irresponsible behavior, human error, and lack of proper licensing and training as the reasons behind rising road deaths and injuries,” the group said.
“We will continue to be blind to other likely causes, such as faulty road design, lack of proper pedestrian and bicycle infrastructure, unsafe vehicles, excessive speed limits and problematic traffic rules,” they added.
One other benefit from creating the PTSB is that it can recommend road safety measures that would lead to “huge savings in health-care costs” due to “fewer injuries and fatalities from road crashes.”
We agree completely with these observations, and urge Malacañang to reconsider the veto of the PTSB bill as public safety should be paramount, and redundancy can be eliminated by the simple expedient of transferring proven transportation safety experts to a single office.