Stressing that the most important thing is to ensure the safety and welfare of ordinary passengers and commuters, Senator Ferdinand "Bongbong" Marcos Jr. today called on his colleagues to review, update or repeal certain transportation laws and merge them into a Code of Transportation and Commuter Safety.
In an interview, Sen. Bongbong says that current laws relating to transportation are mostly regulations meant for land, air and sea transport sectors and very few tackle measures meant to strengthen safety and welfare of commuters and passengers.
Provisions for the safety of commuters are expressed in Articles 1755 to 1763 of the New Civil Code of the Philippines. However, these provisions are not enough to really safeguard commuters especially when they are using public transportation.
It is time, says Sen. Bongbong, to gather these provisions into a separate Code that contains specific legal provisions expressing commuters' rights, and safety measures to be undertaken by the carrier or transport company for commuters.
"Our current transportation laws are meant as regulations to carriers and transport sectors. These are mostly directed at businesses. How about the ordinary commuter? What kinds of safeguards does the government give them? What rights do they have as commuters? I think it is time to review the provisions of the New Civil Code of the Philippines pertaining to commuters, lift and separate them from the Code, and create a New Code that expressly expands commuter rights and thereupon, create measures meant towards improving public transport infrastructure to be more "commuter-friendly" says the young senator.
Sen. Bongbong also believes that it is time for the government to create laws that would mandate the building of commuter-friendly infrastructures and at the same time, laws that would improve maintenance services and provide for crisis preparedness protocols.
"It is the mandate of every carrier to take extraordinary diligence in their services. Extraordinary diligence has already been defined by our courts to mean more than the diligence that a dutiful father does to his children. However, because there is no specific code that governs the transportation and commuter sectors in our country, this level or diligence is not at par with the expectations of the public, much less government. "
The Senator adds that government should now require every transport firm to implement a higher standard of maintaining their carriers. Maintenance is key towards lessening tragic accidents, such as the one which happened when an MRT coach derailed itself a few days ago, resulting to as many as 40 people injured. Building more commuter-friendly infrastructure should be part of the business requirements for every carrier or transport services, as well.
To encourage firms to undertake these maintenance checks, Sen. Bongbong intends to propose an imposition of fines against transport utility firms and carriers who do not regularly maintain their units according to the standards of care that government regulators require. Transport firms who will build commuter-friendly terminals should be given incentives by the government too, says the Senator.
"Let us be mindful of the safety, security and convenience of Filipino commuters. Our entire system should be designed and built with the safety of our commuters at the foremost consideration. This should serve as a warning to us, especially to the DOTC that if we don't improve, if we don't enhance safety and security features of our systems, if we don't do regular maintenance and safety checks, expect our system to break anytime soon." Sen. Bongbong adds.