A senator on Thursday raised the need to impose stiffer penalties against public utility vehicle operators that allow overloading in light of the bus tragedy that killed more than 30 people in Nueva Ecija on Tuesday.
At least 31 passengers died and scores injured when an overloaded bus plunged into a ravine in Carranglan, Nueva Ecija.
Senator Joseph Victor “JV” Ejercito, vice chairman of the public services committee, noted that the Nueva Ecija bus accident was so tragic that major steps should be taken to revamp regulations on land transportation, including Republic Act No. 4136 or the Land Transportation and Traffic Code which he said is outdated and should be reviewed.
“We were able to pass the Speed Limiter Act during the 16th Congress. I think it is high time to pass an amendment with respect to the violation of the prescribed maximum capacity of public utility vehicles,” the senator said.
RA 4136 was enacted in June 1964, and its corresponding terms and conditions issued by the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board do not provide for a penalty that corresponds to the possible damage to passengers.
Based on the present law, those found guilty of overloading are fined P2,000 for the first offense, P3,000 for the second offense and suspension of the Certificate of Public Convenience.
“While the nation is grieving with those who lost their loved ones in the accident, the Senate will take steps in ensuring that accidents like these are curbed and prevented from happening again,” Ejercito said.
Senator Grace Poe said that the accident strengthened the need for the establishment of a National Transport Safety Board (NTSB) and agency dedicated in addressing worsening transport-safety woes in the country.
Poe, who chairs the senate committee on public services, said that the NTSB would somehow take the load off from the Department of Transportation (DOTr) which is already attending various issues facing the transportation sector.
“Having a dedicated agency focused on ensuring safety and determination of causes of road accidents would be a big help,” she added.
Senate Bill (SB) 162 which seeks to create the NTSB is currently pending in the committee level.
Under the proposal NTSB will be in charge of determining the probable cause of transportation related accidents on land, sea and air including railway and pipeline systems.
It mandate also include the conduct of safety inspections on land, sea and air transportation and appraising or assessing existing practices and policies regarding the transportation sector.
The NSTB will also have capability to recommend the replacement of transportation officials who will be found remiss of their duties. Jefferson Antiporda