MANILA — President Rodrigo R. Duterte has ordered more stringent enforcement of road safety checks after a private truck used to ferry a family to an outing fell into a ravine in South Cotabato, killing 21 people and injuring 14 others on Tuesday.
In a news release issued Thursday, the Department of Transportation (DOTr) said the President made the directive during a meeting with Transportation Secretary Arthur Tugade, Senator Bong Go, Land Transportation Office (LTO) Chief Assistant Secretary Edgar Galvante, Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board Chairman Martin Delgra III, DOTr Undersecretary for Road Transport and Infrastructure Mark de Leon, and officers of the Philippine National Police.
Duterte directed the immediate roadworthiness inspection of public utility vehicles (PUVs) and the conduct of regular inspections in PUV terminals.
He instructed the concerned government agencies to intensify roadworthiness checks, improve driver’s licensing requirements, conduct periodic drug testing, and financial capability checks for operators.
He also pushed for the urgent nationwide implementation of the PUV Modernization Program to improve the level of safety and security of passengers.
“Modernization of public transport is non-negotiable,” Duterte said.
He also underscored 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.
He said operators who do not have the financial capability for safety improvements should cease to operate.
The President, according to the DOTr, also emphasized that driving a motor vehicle should require a minimum IQ (intelligence quotient) 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,” Duterte said. “When you take drugs, you are out to hurt somebody.”
He ordered the police to pursue criminal cases against drivers involved in road mishaps, and study the imposition of minimum imprisonment sentences to erring drivers.
The DOTr said an executive order on stricter road safety enforcement would soon be issued.
Meanwhile, Tugade committed to improving road safety by checking roadworthiness through the Motor Vehicle Inspection System.
He said the comprehensive driver training and education under the “Tsuper Iskolar” Program with the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority, as well as improved driver’s licensing requirements using the IT system of the LTO, are needed to keep the roadworthiness of vehicles.
“Ilang buhay na naman ‘ho ang nawala sa atin. Itigil na ang kawalan ng disiplina. Itigil na ang pagiging pabaya sa kalsada. (We have lost several lives again. Stop the lack of discipline. Stop being reckless on the road),” Tugade said.
“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 (As the President ordered, we will make sure that only roadworthy vehicles will be allowed to travel and that all drivers have enough training and discipline),” Tugade said. (PR)