Govt agencies, Bestlink blamed for Tanay tragedy

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Government transportation agencies and authorities of a private school were at fault over a fatal bus crash that killed more than a dozen college students last month, Sen. Grace Poe said on Tuesday.

Poe, the chairman of the Senate Committee on Services, added that the accident can be blamed primarily on the “system” that makes it hard to determine how old buses really are because of “cheating” in registering the vehicles.

Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board Chairman Martin Delgra also on Tuesday said the Panda bus involved in the incident in Tanay, Rizal, was already 29 years old.

Delgra added that the bus was registered in 2004 and manufactured in 1988.

Land Transportation Office (LTO) chief Ed Galvante said their agency’s licensing examinationa are not updated but that they are “in the process of amending them.”

Galvante added that the LTO needs P100 million to improve their inspection systems.

Poe pointed out that the school–Bestlink–also failed to assign a teacher to accompany the students to a field trip to Tanay in line with a supposed requirement under the National Service Training Program.

The school earlier said it was not aware that Harana Tours, which they had contracted for the fid trip, sub-contracted the Panda bus involved in the accident.

Poe proposed a National Transportation Safety Board, an independent body under the Office of the President, that, among others “will focus on clear-cut investigations of transport-related accidents.”

Delgra said the LTFRB in cooperation with the Technical Education Skills and Development Authority will launch a Drivers’ Training Academy in April or May for training of public transport drivers, which the senator lauded.

Meanwhile, Poe said delayed implementation of the law mandating speed limiter for public utility vehicles (PUVs) is putting the public at risk.

She had leaned that drafting of the Implementing Rules and Regulations (IRR) for Republic Act (RA) 10916 is yet to be completed.

“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 [fewer]careless drivers on the road,” Poe said during a committee hearing.

RA 10916 or the Speed Limiter Act lapsed into law on July 16, 2016 but the Department of Transportation, the agency responsible for coming up with the IRR, has not yet completed it. REICELENE IGNACIO AND JEFFERSON ANTIPORDA

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