March 14, 2017
Transcript of Sen. Grace Poe's Opening Statement
In today's discussion, we will tackle bills and resolutions that address road safety; air, land, and sea passenger rights; and a privilege speech on road accidents.
Transportation safety is an important issue that has long languished as a secondary priority. Various mishaps on land, such as those involving buses, and those at sea- particularly in the case of ferries- have given rise to public outcry over their handling and investigation.
Currently, the PNP Highway Patrol Group and the MMDA are the two agencies that compile data on vehicular accidents. In 2014, the MMDA reported that there were 90,258 vehicular accidents resulting in 418 deaths. In 2015, they reported 95,615 traffic accidents - 5,357 more than in 2014. Of this number, 519 persons died; 17,103 were injured, and 77,993 of these cases were damage to property.
However, these two bodies are limited with regard to area, capacity, and investigating powers. What about areas outside Metro Manila? Who takes note of that?
Also, the lack of a central autonomous body to investigate accidents has meant, more often than not, that regulatory bodies would conduct their own investigations. These agencies have acted as judge, jury, and executioner, leading to rumors of institutional whitewashes and cover-ups.
For instance, the existing Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines (CAAP), which regulates air transport safety, came under fire during the investigation of the accident involving a department secretary who died during a plane crash.
Thus, there is a need to avoid "conflict of interest" situations wherein an agency is both the regulator and the investigating body on accidents under their purview. The lack of an independent body to address transport safety incidents has resulted in a lack of public confidence both here and abroad.
Recently, news of a field trip gone bad, resulting in the death of 15 people, drew public attention on schools requiring field trips for students.
I believe that excursions provide a means for students to learn outside the four walls of their classroom. True enough, we should investigate the necessity of such field trips for the purpose of crafting laws that will act as guidelines for learning institutions.
However, we should not take the easy route and simply deter schools from allowing its students to engage in practical learning. Thus, we need to ask the right questions and create a legislative measure that will prevent road accidents, whether during the course of a field trip or not, from happening again.
But it is not only the need to create an investigating body that we call for this hearing today. Matagal pa ang Halloween pero hindi tayo natatantanan ng horror stories tungkol sa delayed flights, stranded and bumped-off passengers, and exaggerated transportation costs.
We also hear horror stories about taxi passengers who are held-up, not at gun point, but by crafty taxi drivers, who will demand more than the metered fare just because a passenger is in dire need of a ride.
This summer, we expect even more horror stories, as several bakasyonistas will be travelling via land, air, and sea transportation. We may be a third world country as they say, but we may and should demand for first-world services.
Airlines may offer cheap flights, but we do not want the passengers to suffer from cheap services. Taxi drivers may have the personal choice of smoking, but should be required to keep their vehicles clean and smoke-free at all times. Travelling inter-island may require only small boats, but we expect them not to overbook and to provide quality life jackets and other equipment to ensure passenger safety. The saying "you get what you pay for" does not and should not apply to basic services that common carriers are required to provide, especially safety.
Thursday, March 23
Wednesday, March 22