Former President and now Pampanga Rep. Gloria Macapagal Arroyo has called for the establishment of a transportation commission tasked to improve the reliability and security of the transport sector in the country.
In House Bill 5092, otherwise known as the proposed Philippine Transportation Act of 2017, Arroyo suggested the transformation of the Office of the Transportation Security (OTS) under the Department of Transportation into the National Transportation Security Regulatory Commission (NTSRC).
This, she said, will provide checks and balances, prevent conflicts of interest, and hold accountable government agencies performing quasi-judicial functions in the regulation and operation of the transport system in the country.
"An independent and single authority performing oversight function" is how she describes the commission.
"Transportation security becomes essential given the network characteristics of international and domestic travel and the consequent accountability challenges that exist in the transportation sector," Arroyo said in a news release on Wednesday.
In coming up with the proposed law, Arroyo noted the recent terror attacks in airports and in mass transport stations in Europe and the 2010 Manila hostage crisis, which revealed the vulnerabilities of the transportation systems worldwide.
With this, she said it is time for the Philippines to create a single office tasked to secure all modes of transportation in the country.
"The transformation of the OTS into the NTSRC could pave the way for the development and improvement of transportation security governance necessary for bringing about a competitive and world-class transportation industry that is responsive to the needs of a fast-growing economy and to ensuring reliability and security of the transportation services and infrastructure," she said.
Under Arroyo's bill, the NTRSC will come up with a transportation security program that will ensure the country's compliance to the international obligations on transportation, and harmonize regulatory polices already in place.
The commission will also ensure that all the responsibilities of the concerned transportation government agencies are properly delineated.
The Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines (CAAP), Maritime Industry Authority (MARINA), Philippine Coast Guard (PCG), Land Transportation Office (LTO) and the Land Transportation Franchising Regulatory Board (LTFRB), including government and private airport, sea pot and land transportation operators, will be under the oversight powers of the NTRSC.
"The system of accountability ensures that relevant government agencies, as well as industry players tasked to perform functions geared towards deterrence, protection and response to terrorist attacks and other acts of unlawful interference, are performing their functions effectively and efficiently, thereby the reducing the possibility and mitigating the consequences of terrorist attacks," Arroyo said.
A commission composed of a chairman and four members appointed by the president will run the NTRSC.
They will have a fixed term of seven years without reappointment, and they should also be in no way related by consanguinity or affinity with any investor, stockholder, officer or director of any company engaged in the transportation industry.
"Just like the first world countries in America and Europe, as well as in Asia, the transportation industry in the Philippines is facing challenges in the area of transportation security which, if not systematically addressed, could potentially jeopardize the phenomenal and unprecedented growth the country has been experiencing in the recent years," Arroyo said.
"Thus, defining and criminalizing acts of unlawful interference in transportation systems, and imposing stringent penalties and sanctions to such acts or to any violations of transportation security regulations becomes mandatory,” she added. —GMA News