Press Release
May 10, 2017

Privilege Speech of Senator Joseph Victor G. Ejercito
In celebration of the 4th UN Global Road Safety Week
10 May 2017

A pleasant afternoon to my distinguished colleagues, ladies, and gentlemen.

In celebration of the 4th UN Global Road Safety Week, I would like to present to this august chamber the Philippines' current status in the global stage in terms of road safety, and some policies we are pushing in order to help reduce fatal accidents and make roads safer for Filipinos.

Mr. President, road safety issues gravely concern me as Health Committee Chairman and Public Services Vice Chairman because it is both a public health and transportation problem. I am sure Senator Grace Poe, who is the Chairman of Public Services Committee and my ever supportive partner in pushing for reforms in infrastructure and transport sector, is also concerned of these.

The Department of Health has reported that road accidents are the 4th leading cause of deaths in the country. In Metro Manila alone, 1 person is killed by a road crash every 17 hours. This means that an average of 43 Filipinos die every month, and at least 509 people die every year due to road accidents. What is very unfortunate in these data is that children are the most vulnerable to road fatalities since it is the 2nd leading cause of death of children ages 0-17 years old, next to drowning.

The World Health Organization, in its Global Status Report on Road Safety 2015, also reported that 53% of reported road traffic fatalities in the Philippines are riders of motorized two or three-wheeler vehicles. Second victims are pedestrians who make up the second biggest chunk of road user deaths at 19%, and third, by drivers of four-wheeled vehicles at 14%, followed by their passengers at 11%.

This gives us insight on the unacceptably high number of road traffic crashes that occur in the country. Mr. President, we have to do something about this.

As Vice Chairperson of the Public Services Committee and a transportation advocate, I have pushed for notable measures on road safety such as the Road Speed Limiter Act of 2016 - now Republic Act No. 10916, which requires operators and drivers of public utility vehicles, cargo trucks, and select private vehicles to install speed limiter devices to prevent over speeding resulting to fatal accidents. At the moment, I am still waiting for the Department of Transportation to draft the implementing rules and regulations (IRR) which is already long overdue, especially with the number of accidents recorded in the past year due to over speeding.

To handle major accidents involving all types of public utility vehicles or vessels, I have also proposed for the creation of a National Transportation Safety Board (Senate Bill No. 1375) that will engage in the investigation and determination of probable cause of transportation accidents, the issuance of safety recommendations and special studies directed at preventing recurrence of accidents, and evaluating the effectiveness of concerned government agencies as well as their policies in preventing transportation agencies.

The NTSB is proposed to be primarily responsible for the analysis, evaluation, and prevention of accidents on air, marine and land transportation including railways and pipeline systems, for the effective promotion of riders' safety and to prevent loss of life and property. I am expectant that we would soon pass the creation of the NTSB since I believe Senator Poe also filed a similar bill.

Mr. President, today, I am proposing for two more measures that seek to strengthen our road safety laws and to make traveling secure for Filipinos.

The first measure that I am proposing is the Anti-Overloading Act of 2017 (SB No. 1446), which seeks to criminalize the overloading of public utility vehicles by amending the penalties as prescribed in the Land Transportation and Traffic Code.

Mr. President, we do not want another freak accident such as what happened in Nueva Ecija last month - that overloaded bus that fell into a 100-feet ravine and took the lives of 31 people and injured 46. It is about time that we update the law because in reality, ALMOST ALL PUVs have a habit of overloading vehicles at the expense of passengers' comfort and safety.

This is why I am proposing to criminalize overloading and to increase the penalties to 50,000 pesos including suspension of franchise for the first offense; 250,000 pesos including suspension of franchise for the second offense; and 1-Million pesos and revocation of franchise for the third offense. In the event that fatalities are involved in an accident, I am proposing that those accountable for the deaths should be subjected to 2 years and 1 day up to 6 years of prison correctional.

The second measure that I am proposing is the Child Safety in Motor Vehicles Act of 2017 (SB No. 1447). Mr. President, while the Philippines has implemented the mandatory use of seat belts to reduce death among drivers and passengers, the said law only protects adults and is not purposely adapted for infants and young children. This lack of a road safety law that specifically target children and infants is what I would want to address, Mr. President. This is why I am seeking to pass the use of Child Restraint Systems for ages 0 to 12 in private vehicles.

Child restraints are specifically designed to protect infants and young children during a collision or a sudden stop by restraining their movement away from the vehicle structure and distributing the forces of a crash over the strongest parts of the body, with minimum damage to the soft tissues.

Child restraints are also effective in reducing injuries that can occur during non-crash events, such as a sudden stop, a swerving evasive maneuver or opening of door during vehicle movement. When correctly installed and used depending on the child's size, height and weight, child restraints are proven to reduce fatal injuries among infants by approximately 70%, and among children aged 1 to 4 years by 54%.

Mr. President, as I propose this, I am thinking of the safety of my children and also of yours.

The Philippines already passed 6 out of 7 interventions related to key risk factors on road safety. These laws are the Speed Limit Law (R.A No. 4136), Anti-Drunk and Drugged Driving Law (R.A No. 10586), Motorcycle Helmet Law (R.A No. 10054), Seat Belt Law (R.A No. 8750), and the Anti-Distracted Driving (R.A No. 10913). Other supporting road safety laws include Senator Sotto's Children's Safety on Motorcyles Act of 2015 (R.A. No. 10666), which barred children from riding motorcycles along national and provincial highways.

The only measure left is the Child Restraint Law, which shall seal the deal for us in our effort to promote and ensure road safety for all ages, and also in fulfilling the road safety targets as reflected in the newly adopted 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

With this, Mr. President, I am seeking the support of my fellow Senators for the passage of the Anti-Overloading Act of 2017 (SB No. 1446), the Child Safety in Motor Vehicles Act of 2017 (SB No. 1447), and also of the creation of the National Transportation Safety Board (SB No. 1375).

That is all, Mr. President. May we all remain safe and secure on the road. Thank you very much.

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