An airplane is seen on the runway at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) in Manila, March 14, 2016. — REUTERS/ROMEO RANOCO/FILE PHOTO

FOREIGN BUSINESS chambers and two international organizations expressed disappointment over President Ferdinand R. Marcos, Jr.’s decision to veto a bill creating a transportation safety board, saying it would have addressed gaps in the investigation of transport-related accidents.

In a statement, seven members of the Joint Foreign Chambers in the Philippines (JFC), the Safe Travel Alliance (STA) and the International Air Transport Association (IATA) said the proposed Philippine Transportation Safety Board (PTSB) would have been in charge of “impartial and science-based” investigations into transport-related accidents and incidents.

“As an independent and impartial transport safety body following the example of various countries, the PTSB would have addressed regulatory gaps in the transport safety bureaucracy, 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,” they said.

Under the vetoed measure, the PTSB aimed to improve transportation safety measures and standards, as well as create implementing rules to prevent accidents. It would have been a non-regulatory agency under the Office of the President.

However, Mr. Marcos did not sign the measure creating the PTSB, saying it will have the same functions as existing agencies under the Department of Transportation (DoTr), Philippine National Police (PNP) and the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI).

The business groups noted that different agencies currently handle accident investigations, but there are limits to their ability “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,” they added. 

The foreign chambers, STA and IATA noted that the bill creating the PTSB has failed to hurdle Congress for over two decades, but it was only the 18th Congress that approved the measure and forwarded it to Malacañang for the President’s signature.

“The groups remain committed to pursuing enactment of the bill in the 19th Congress,” they said.

Aside from IATA and STA, the statement was signed by JFC members — the 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, Japanese Chamber of Commerce and Industry of the Philippines, Inc., Korean Chamber of Commerce of the Philippines, Inc., and the Philippine Association of Multinational Companies Regional Headquarters, Inc.

In his veto message, Mr. Marcos said the creation of the PTSB “is likely to create functional duplication, confusion as to authority, ineffectiveness, and deficiency in the performance of the responsibilities.”

“Considering that one of the primary policies (of this administration)… is to enhance the government’s institutional capacity through optimal and efficient use of resources and strategic rationalization of the functions of governments, I am constrained to veto the bill,” Mr. Marcos said.

The President urged the 19th Congress to enact measures that will review the functions and processes of the DoTr, PNP and NBI “with the end view of strengthening the same and providing a holistic and well-coordinated approach in the promotion of transport safety.” — Revin Mikhael D. Ochave