MANILA - The Senate on Tuesday began its hearing on several measures calling for stricter regulation of land-based transportation following a string of deadly road accidents, including the February bus crash that killed 15 people in Tanay, Rizal.
Senator Grace Poe, chairperson of the Senate committee on public services, opened the inquiry with a renewed pitch for the creation of
a National Transport Safety Board that will probe road accidents.
"The lack of a central autonomous body to investigate accidents means, 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," Poe said.
The Metro Manila Development Authority (MMDA) and police Highway Patrol Group, she said, do not have enough jurisdiction and manpower to investigate all transport accidents.
Citing MMDA figures, Poe said that 2015 alone saw 90,000 transport accidents which resulted in 418 deaths.
In a bid to reduce these accidents, Poe's committee will tackle the proposed Road Safety and Comprehensive Driver's Education Act, as well as the separate bills of rights of airline, taxi, and maritime passengers.
Invited to the hearing were officials from the MMDA, Department of Transportation, Land Transportation Office, Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board, Commission on Higher Education, and Department of Education.
Also invited were representatives of Bestlink College Novaliches, Panda Coach Tours and Transport, and Haranah Tours.
A Panda Coach bus was carrying students of Bestlink College last Feb. 20 when it allegedly lost its brakes and smashed into an electric post in Tanay, Rizal.
The students were bound for a camping activity at Sacramento Adventure Camp when the fatal accident occurred.