After South Cotabato Truck Mishap, Duterte Wants Strict Road Safety Checks

Ruben Manahan IV

President Rodrigo Duterte ordered authorities to enforce a more stringent road safety checks following the private truck that figured into an accident that claimed 21 lives and injuring 14.

Last September 17, a private truck used to ferry a family on a trip fell into a ravine in South Cotabato.

Duterte met with Department of Transportation (DOTr) Secretary Arthur Tugade, Senator Bong Go, Land Transportation Office (LTO) Chief Assistant Secretary Edgar Galvante, Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) Chairman Martin Delgra III, DOTr Undersecretary for Road Transport and Infrastructure Mark de Leon, and officers from the Philippine National Police (PNP) and gave instructions to intensify roadworthiness checks, improve driver’s licensing requirements, periodic drug testing, and financial capability checks for operators.

The chief executive also ordered concerned agencies to inspect immediately the roadworthiness of Public Utility Vehicles (PUVs) and to conduct regular inspections of PUV terminals.

Further, Duterte also pushed for the urgent nationwide implementation of the PUV Modernization Program (PUVMP) to improve the level of safety and security of passengers.

“Modernization of public transport is non-negotiable,” he emphasized.

Duterte noted that private vehicles used beyond their legitimate purpose should be banned, and that the need for PUV operators to invest in road safety equipment and facilities should be pushed further.

According to him, operators who do not have the financial capability for safety improvements should cease to operate.

With regards to licensing requirements, Duterte stated that driving a motor vehicle should require a minimum IQ level, and that drug tests be made mandatory for drivers to reduce the risk of accidents.

“The loss of lives due to crashes is too unacceptable. We already have good roads but there are a lot of ignorant drivers,” he said.

“When you take drugs, you are out to hurt somebody,” Duterte added.

Moreover, he also ordered the police to pursue criminal cases against drivers involved in road crashes, and recommended to study the imposition of minimum imprisonment sentences to erring drivers involved in such crashes.

For his part, Tugade committed to improve road safety on three points: (1) roadworthiness checks through the Motor Vehicle Inspection System (MVIS); (2) comprehensive driver training and education under the ‘Tsuper Iskolar’ Program with TESDA; and (3) improved driver’s licensing requirements using the IT system of the Land Transportation Office (LTO).

Ilang buhay na naman ‘ho ang nawala sa atin. Itigil na ang kawalan ng disiplina. Itigil na ang pagiging pabaya sa kalsada. Sa utos ng ating Pangulo, sisikapin naming masiguro na tanging mga roadworthy vehicles lang ang bibiyahe sa kalsada, at lahat ng driver ay may sapat na kaalaman at disiplina sa pagmamaneho,” Tugade said.

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