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Joint chambers, private sector groups raise conflict of interest in present setup

By Tyrone Jasper C. Piad, Inquirer Business

The Joint Foreign Chambers, Safe Travel Alliance and the International Airport Transport Association were dismayed by President Marcos’ decision to veto the measure creating an independent body to be tasked with improving transportation safety.

In a joint statement, the private sector groups said the bill pushing for the establishment of the Philippine Transportation Safety Board (PTSB) would have resulted in better transportation safety measures and standards for the country. Among its proposed mandates is to investigate transportation-related accidents and incidents.

“Presently, different agencies handle different sectors of transportation with regard to accident investigations, however, there are limitations on the ability of the investigating agencies to delve deeper and find forensic evidence on the real cause of the accidents or by witnesses of the accidents,” the joint statement read.

Marcos recently vetoed the PTSB measure on grounds the proposed functions of the agency were already being “undertaken by the different agencies.”

The private sector groups, however, emphasized that the separate body was still needed because of concerns over conflict of interest.

“Because most of these agencies are also tasked to regulate and/or operate the sector, there is an inherent conflict of interest in the performance of their duties as an investigating body,” it added.

Meanwhile, Move As One Coalition co-convenor Robert Siy agreed that PTSB would be beneficial for the transportation sector and the commuters.

“Government agencies need to welcome independent and evidence-based feedback. Otherwise, we will just continue to hear a lot of ‘victim blaming’ from our transportation and traffic officials—poor discipline, irresponsible behavior, human error, and lack of proper licensing and training as the reasons behind rising road deaths and injuries,” Siy pointed out.

“We will continue to be blind to other likely causes, such as faulty road design, lack of proper pedestrian and bicycle infrastructure, unsafe vehicles, excessive speed limits and problematic traffic rules,” he added. He stressed that PTSB being able to recommend road safety measures would lead to “huge savings in health-care costs” due to “fewer injuries and fatalities from road crashes.”

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