CONGRESS has ratified the reconciled report of a bill creating the Philippine Transportation Safety Board (PTSB), an agency that will have authority to set and implement policies to ensure safety in the country’s transport sector.
“Mr. President, this measure is long overdue. Versions of the bill have been filed as far back as the 13th Congress — almost two decades ago,” Senator Mary Grace S. Poe-Llamanzares, the primary sponsor of the bill, said during the plenary on Wednesday.
Under the consolidated measure, the PTSB will be an independent investigatory body covering all transport-related accidents or incidents.
“It is now also a standard-setting agency tasked with evaluating and developing evidence-based safety standards that are at par with international standards,” she said.
The board will consist of seven members, including representatives from the land, rail, air and sea transportation sectors, and from the commuting public.
“This ensures that in addition to experts, commuters will also be given a voice in decisions regarding the tightening of transportation security in our country,” Ms. Poe said.
PTSB board members and employees will not be allowed to hold any other office, employment, profession or business during their tenure.
“PTSB has a crucial and life-saving mandate, and thus the integrity of its board and employees should not in any way be jeopardized or compromised,” said Ms. Poe.
Under the proposed law, the board would be required to report their factual findings — which will be binding and taken judicial notice by the courts — and their conclusions and recommendations, which will not be admissible except in administrative cases, in every investigation.
“This is in line with the universally accepted principle in accident investigation of prioritizing safety by encouraging free and full disclosure,” the senator said.
Ms. Poe said that the passage of the bill “couldn’t be more timely,” noting the “unforgivably high number of transport-related deaths and accidents in recent history.”
She cited that from 2016 to 2020, there were 483 accidents recorded in the maritime sector, while annual average deaths due to road crashes were at 12,487.
“The agency really needs to investigate accidents like this and take steps to prevent it from happening in the future,” Ms. Poe said.
The ratified bill will now be sent to the office of outgoing President Rodrigo R. Duterte for review and approval. — Alyssa Nicole O. Tan