MANILA — Eight months after its enactment, the Department of Transportation (DOTr) has yet to issue the Implementing Rules and Regulations for the Speed Limiter Law making the public commuter vulnerable to accidents due to “rolling coffins” in major thoroughfares.
Senator Grace Poe, chairman of the Senate committee on public services, made this remarks during the investigation on the recent the deaths last month of 15 students and its driver when the bus they were riding went out of control on a downhill road and smashed an electric post in Tanay, Rizal on February 20.
Poe said the delays in the full implementation of RA 10916, which was authored by Sen. JV Ejercito, put the life of riders at risk.
“I think [the immediate issuance of the IRR] is crucial. If we have this in place at least we can make sure that there are less careless drivers on the road,” said Poe, who pressed the Transportation department to finally release the law’s IRR.
Transportation Undersecretary Anne Lontoc said it is currently being drafted by a technical working group composed of the Transportation, Public Works, and Trade departments and they target its issuance next month.
What postpones the IRR’s issuance, Lontoc said, is the setting of standards on speed limits and specifications of the speed limiter to be installed on covered vehicles.
The senator also lamented the lack of motor vehicle inspection system facilities that are tasked to determine the road trustworthiness of the public utility vehicles.
She said for the entire country, there are only 9 MVIS. There is only one MVIS servicing the National Capital Region and the entire Southern Tagalog region, which is located in Laguna.
In the Tanay accident, Poe said while the bus was registered in 2004, it was found out that the engine is already thirty years old, aside from the MVIS facilities being obsolete.
Land Transportation Office chief Ed Galvante said P100 million is needed to rehabilitate the structure and equipment of one MVIS.
Galvante said agency is recommending the building of one MVIS per region and another one per island-province.
Galvante, on questioning of Ejercito, said four facilities were built in 2008 but were not maintained during the previous administration.
Ejercito said there is a need to rehabilitate and build more facilities nationwide and that the budget could come from the road users’ tax.
Poe, meanwhile, blamed the LTO and Bestlink College for the deaths of 15 people, mostly freshmen students, in fatal accident while going to their leadership seminar in Tanay, Rizal.
Poe said LTO should be blamed for its failure to determine the road-worthiness of the Panda bus used by the students.
The lady senator said the unfortunate incident could also be blamed to the owners of the Bestlink College for its failure to provide a single high official or a safety officer during the trip.
“As a requirement of regulatory agencies, especially CHEd and DepEd, nararapat na isama sa guidelines ang pagkakaroon ng persons of authority,” she said.
Poe added that the committee also found the bus in question was inspected in Subic sometime 2004. According to LTFRB, their investigation revealed that the Panda Coach bus was actually 29 years old, way beyond the 15-year cap implemented by the agency on buses.
Poe pushed for the creation of a National Transport Safety Board (NTSB) to solely investigate all transportation accidents on land, air, sea and pipelines and make recommendations for safety.
“It underscores the need for an independent body. Kasi nga naman i-imbestigahan mo ang sarili mo, kayo-kayo rin ang nandun. Meron talagang conflict of interest at kahit na naging patas kayo di ninyo masisisi na magduda pa rin ang iba,” Poe said.
“The board will be tasked to investigate accidents involving transportation, such as aircraft, highway accidents, railroads, pipelines, and major marine accidents. It is also an independent body that will conduct studies on transport safety and report to Congress, the President and concerned state agencies on how to make transportation safer,” Poe said.