The seven members of the Joint Foreign Chambers, along with the Safe Travel Alliance and the International Air Transport Association (IATA) expressed disappointment over the veto by President Ferdinand Marcos, Jr. of the enrolled bill that would have created the Philippine Transportation Safety Board (PTSB).
JFC emphasized in a news statement issued on Thursday, “The bill creating the PTSB failed to progress in Congress for over two decades. Only in the 18th Congress did this important reform reach the most advanced stage in both chambers and the President’s desk.”
The chambers repeatedly expressed support for the creation of the PTSB in the 18th Congress, including through letters sent to relevant Cabinet secretaries. The groups also remain committed to pursuing the enactment of the bill in the 19th Congress.
Currently, different agencies handle different sectors of transportation with regard to accident investigations. However, the chambers said, 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.
“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,” said the chambers.
The JFC said the vetoed bill proposed the creation of a non-regulatory and independent agency attached to the Office of the President, to be the primary agency responsible for the conduct of impartial and science-based investigation on transportation-related accidents and incidents.
“The main objectives of the PTSB are: (a) to improve transportation safety measures to help prevent transportation accidents and mitigate of dangers to human lives and property; and (b) to upgrade transportation safety standards and create implementing rules to prevent accidents and incidents based on factual scientific findings of past accidents and/or incidents,” the joint foreign chambers said.
The JFC said the PTSB, as an independent and impartial transport safety body following the example of various countries, would have addressed regulatory gaps in the transport safety bureaucracy.
The foreign chambers also underscored that it would have facilitated the enhancement of transportation safety measures and standards and coordinated all the actions of relevant public and private entities toward the common goal of ensuring transport safety.
Press Secretary Beatrix “Trixie” Cruz-Angeles earlier said President Ferdinand “Bongbong” R. Marcos Jr. declined to sign House Bill No. 9030 and Senate Bill No, 1077 creating the PTSB, 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).
Angeles said that PTSB would only create functional duplication, confusion as to authority, ineffectiveness, and deficiency in the performance of the responsibilities.
The JFC is a coalition of the American, Australian-New Zealand, Canadian, European, Japanese, Korean chambers, and PAMURI.
The joint foreign chambers represent over 3,000 member companies engaged in around $100 billion worth of trade and some $30 billion worth of investments in the Philippines.
The JFC supports and promotes open international trade, increased foreign investment, and improved conditions for business to benefit both the Philippines and the countries the JFC members represent.