In light of recent fatal road accidents involving public buses, Senator Francis 'Chiz' Escudero has tasked the Land Transportation Office and the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board to conduct strict measures to minimize these incidents.
The senator further tasked the two agencies to stringent and regular inspections of all public utility vehicles (PUVs), and not only when an accident has already occurred.
"There is no guarantee to prevent all road accidents because of many factors including human, mechanical and environmental. But regulators like the LTO and the LTFRB carry the weight of preventing fatal accidents before these happen by strictly implementing the road safety fundamentals of all public utility vehicles. They have the responsibility to make all public transportations reasonably safe to drive and to travel on," commented Escudero.
"These regulators must do their jobs. Stern measures need to be strictly implemented to ensure road safety. Conscious efforts from all sectors of government and the society should be at high level to avoid further loss of lives and damage to person and property," Escudero added.
Escudero wants both the LTO and LTFRB cleansed of fixers who make skirting around the rules possible, for a fee.
"Every year a vehicle needs to be registered; its engine needs to be inspected for safety. Every year emission standards need to be met. If LTO and LTFRB are just implementing these rules with hawk's eyes, then the number of vehicular crashes can be minimized," concluded Escudero.
Realizing the lack of concern for lives of passengers by many public utility vehicle drivers, Senator Escudero filed Senate Bill 123 in July of 2013, which penalizes bus drivers who commit criminal negligence in road mishaps with 20 years of imprisonment once the bill passes. The senator wants to provide more teeth to existing preventive policies to achieve safety benefits.
Common carriers' criminal liability is found in Article 365 of the Revised Penal Code, Criminal Negligence, which provides as penalty of imprisonment arresto mayor to prision correccional or from one (1) month to four (4) years and two (2) months, depending on the gravity of the resultant crime or felony.
Escudero said these penalties may no longer be apt with the way common carriers, especially buses, have lightly treated their obligation under existing laws. He added that the culture of carelessness among buses or common carriers is already too alarming too ignore.
"As a matter of fundamental statutory policy, common carriers are required to carry their passengers safely as far as human care and foresight can provide, using utmost diligence of very cautious persons, with due regard for all the circumstances," said Escudero.