Press Release
April 25, 2006


Expresses alarm over increasing number of accidents

Senator Manny Villar, Chairman of the Senate Committee on Public Order, expressed alarm over the recent reports of accidents or mishaps involving aircraft, trains, buses, ships and other vehicles in various parts of the country.

Calling for the review and improvement of safety standards in local transportation, Villar says, "Summer, when most people go on out-of-town trips, has just began and we already hear a lot of reports about bus falling off cliffs and passenger cars piling up on highways. The rate of vehicular accidents these days is just alarming."

On Monday, seven people were killed and 50 were injured when a Manila-bound passenger bus from Bicol plunged into a 30-meter high ravine along the diversion road in Barangay Sapinit in Pagbilao, Quezon. In another incident, a Philippine Air Force helicopter crash landed in San Ildefonso, Bulacan.

"While we cannot prevent accidents from happening, we can put in place safety precautions to protect travelers or passengers," says Villar.

To this end, Villar has filed a number of bills in the Senate that aim to promote the safety of the commuting public and to improve the local transportation system. These are Senate Bill (SB) 780 or the Sea and Air Transport Safety Act; S.B. 783 or the Transportation Safety Act; and S.B. 779 or the Railroad Safety Act.

"Thousands of Filipinos have died in various sea and air mishaps. Vehicular accidents on the road have also been claiming lives all over the country. However, there is still no piece of legislation to ensure the safety of passengers or commuters and punish offenses of shipping companies and aircraft operators, for instance," cites Villar on his bill.

Through S.B. 780, Villar hopes to penalize operators of ships and aircrafts that disregard travel warnings especially during rough weather conditions. It cites, "All seagoing vessels and seacraft as well as all types of commercial or private aircraft shall not be allowed to travel whenever the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA) detects a storm and raises storm Signal No. 1 along the routes of the vessel or aircraft, unless a clearance is given by the PAGASA."

Violators of the said prohibition shall be subject to the following penalties: first offense, a fine of between P50,000 to P100,000; second offense, suspension of the Certificate of Public Convenience for a period not exceeding 60 days from commercial aircraft or vessel and a fine of between P100,000 to P200,000 for private aircraft or vessel; third offense, revocation of the Certificate of Public Convenience for commercial aircraft or vessel and a fine of between P200,000 to P500,000 for private aircraft and vessel.

Villar under S.B. 783 also recommends the creation of a National Transportation Safety Board, which shall be an independent, non-regulatory agency that would conduct thorough and impartial investigations of transportation accidents. The board shall be tasked to primarily analyze, evaluate and prevent air, highway and marine accidents including railway and pipeline systems to promote safety of the transportation system and prevent the loss of lives and damage to properties.

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