February 07, 2023
FOLLOWING the recent incident involving the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA), the seven members of the Joint Foreign Chambers (JFC) joined by other business groups called on the House and Senate to reconsider the bill creating the Philippine Transportation Safety Board (PTSB) and approve the same in the 19th Congress.
Other business groups that prodded the two chambers of the legislative branch to take another look at the bill creating the PTSB are the Safe Travel Alliance (STA) and the International Air Transport Association (IATA).
“The recent incident involving the NAIA and the alleged faulty air traffic management system has brought air transportation safety—and transportation safety, in general—in the spotlight,” the business groups said in a joint statement on Monday.
The business groups said the incident was a “strong reminder” of the need to pass legislation creating the Philippine Transportation Safety Board (PTSB).
In a letter to the Senate Public Services and House Transportation Committees—amid ongoing congressional hearings on the NAIA incident—members of the JFC expressed support for the creation of the transportation safety board.
According to the business groups, all investigations on transportation accidents are currently undertaken by the government agencies that have “regulatory powers” over the respective sector of the transportation industry.
Because most of these agencies are also tasked to regulate and/or operate the sector, the business groups said “there is an inherent conflict of interest in the performance of their duties as investigating bodies.”
According to the bill that creates the PTSB, the transportation safety board seeks to be an “independent and impartial” transportation safety body patterned after best practices in other countries that will address regulatory gaps in the transport safety bureaucracy; facilitate the enhancement of transportation safety measures and standards; and coordinate all the actions of relevant public and private entities towards the common goal of ensuring transport safety.
The legislation was approved in both Houses in the previous Congress but was vetoed in the early days of President Ferdinand “Bongbong” R. Marcos, Jr.’s presidency.
The stakeholders expressed optimism that the current Congress can “refine” the bill so that the reasons cited for the veto can be addressed.
Marcos declined to sign the bill creating the PTSB in July, since it would have the same functions as the agencies under the Department of Transportation (DOTr) as well as the Philippine National Police (PNP) and the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI).
Beatrix “Trixie” Cruz-Angeles, the then Press secretary of the President, had explained in a statement in July 2022 that creating a new body will only create “functional duplication, confusion as authority, ineffectiveness, and deficiency in the performance of the responsibilities.”
Once enacted, the business groups said the new PTSB can commence its programs to prevent major transportation accidents which compromise the lives of the travelling public.
The groups that called for the reconsideration of the bill are: American Chamber of Commerce of the Philippines; Australian-New Zealand Chamber of Commerce of the Philippines; Canadian Chamber of Commerce of the Philippines; European Chamber of Commerce of the Philippines; International Air Transport Association; Japanese Chamber of Commerce and Industry of the Philippines, Inc.; Korean Chamber of Commerce of the Philippines, Inc.; Philippine Association of Multinational Companies Regional Headquarters, Inc. and Safe Travel Alliance.