SENATE Committee on Public Services chairperson Senator Grace Poe has formally recommended the creation of the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) that will investigate all transportation accidents, determine compliance with safety standards, and conduct studies on safety and improvement.
Committee Report No. 8, which was approved by the Committees on Public Services; Civil Service, Government Reorganization and Professional Regulation; and Finance, will be submitted in plenary for sponsorship and debates.
The report was a consolidation of Senate Bill No. 125 authored by Poe and Senate Bill No. 651 authored by Sen. Ramon “Bong” Revilla Jr.
Poe underscored the need for a sole agency that will focus on accident investigations.
“Transportation mishaps exact an appalling toll in terms of death, injuries, medical costs and damaged properties. Behind these are the social costs of grief and sufferings of the victims and their families that are hard to quantify,” she stressed.
Poe said the findings of the Board will be used to appraise and assess existing practices and regulations of the government related to safety measures.
“The body will determine what can be done to improve regulations, training or certain aspects of the vehicle or the environment to prevent future accidents,” Poe said.
“The NTSB can save lives that should not be lost in the first place. It can avoid preventable accidents. It can avert injuries. It can keep properties intact. The NTSB is our road to safety,” Poe added.
The NTSB will conduct independent investigations on air, highway, railroad, pipeline and maritime accidents. It will have original jurisdiction over these incidents, although other government agencies may also conduct their own investigation.
The result of the investigation of the Board will be submitted to Congress within 60 days from completion.
The NTSB will also proactively initiate and conduct studies on matters pertaining to safety in transportation. It will gather, analyze and publish from time to time data and statistics on transportation crashes, accidents and incidents.
The bill appropriates an initial fund of P50 million for the Board’s operations.
Poe said she wants the NTSB to have the best and the brightest officials, investigators and specialists who can respond to accidents and incidents at once.
“It should be the go-to body for conducting accurate, thorough and independent investigations and for producing timely and well-considered recommendations to improve transportation safety,” she said.
The Board will have seven members headed by a chairperson, who will have a term of five years and will have a rank of department secretary. The Board will also have an executive director, who will manage the day-to-day operations of the body. The NTSB will be attached to the Office of the President.
Poe assured that the Board will have adequate powers to fulfill its mandate. It may conduct hearings, require attendance and testimony of witnesses and the production of relevant documents.
The representative authorized by the NTSB may enter the scene of the incident as part of its investigation.