File photo of the Brgy. Sta. Lucia accident of April 30.

The Palawan provincial board has summoned transport sector representatives to discuss the recent vehicular accidents involving public vehicles, including the April 30 tragic road crash in Brgy. Sta. Lucia that claimed four lives.

The Committee on Public Works, Transportation, and Communications of the 44th Provincial Council will summon the Land Transportation Office (LTO), Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB), PNP Highway Patrol Group, and other related agencies and transport operators next week to address the recent spate of public vehicle accidents in Palawan, including the fatal shuttle van crash that resulted in four deaths.

Board Member Maria Angela Sabando’s privilege speech during the regular session held on Tuesday, May 2 prompted the decision.

During the regular session held on Tuesday, May 2, Sabando brought up complaints from Palawan commuters regarding the speed of public vehicles on the national highway, specifically shuttle vans, which pose a significant threat to passengers’ safety.

“Dahil dito ay muling nabuksan ang usapan ng ating mga kababayan sa reklamo ng maraming mananakay hindi lamang sa sur kundi maging sa norte ng mainland Palawan sa napakabilis na patakbo ng mga drivers ng mga pampublikong shuttle vans. May mga reklamo na umaabot sa 140 kph ang bilis ng takbo ng maraming drivers. Kalbo na ang mga gulong ngunit ipinipilit pa ring ipasada gayundin ang kawalan ng random alcohol at drug testing at alertness test sa mga puyat na driver,” Sabando said.

(As a result, the discussion about the complaints of many passengers regarding the speeding of drivers of public shuttle vans has been reopened among our fellow citizens not only in the south but also in the north of mainland Palawan. There are complaints that many drivers are driving at speeds of up to 140 kph despite bald tires, and they still insist on pushing their limits. Additionally, there is a lack of random alcohol and drug testing and alertness testing for sleep-deprived drivers.)

Furthermore, she emphasized the importance of resolving these complaints to ensure the safety of commuters in Palawan.

Sabando said what’s happening on the roads cannot be taken for granted that’s why she decided to call the parties.

“Hindi natin ipagkikibit-balikat lamang ang mga pangyayaring ito kaya nais kong ipatawag ang LTO, LTFRB, PNP Highway Patrol Group at iba pang ahensiya upang muli nating talakayin ang kaligtasan ng ating mga lansangan partikular sa ating mga highway,” she said.

(We should not just shrug off these events, that’s why I want to summon the LTO, LTFRB, PNP Highway Patrol Group, and other agencies to once again discuss the safety of our roads, particularly our highways.)

Board Member Rafael Ortega Jr. also suggested that representatives from the Puerto Princesa Land Transport Terminal (PPLTT), Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH), Palawan Electric Cooperative (PALECO), and other transport organizations in the province be invited.

He said the prevention of accidents requires responsibility from both drivers and the government agencies responsible for ensuring road safety.

“An accident is an accident. However, this representation, being a driver and a constant road user, believes that accidents can be avoided with due diligence on the part of road users and government agencies involved in ensuring the safety of our road users,” Ortega said.

To safeguard the safety of their passengers, board member Ariston Arzaga suggested too that public transportation drivers, particularly those operating shuttle vehicles, receive frequent “Defensive Driving and Safety Training.”

The significance of equipping drivers with the essential knowledge and skills to avert road accidents and forestall the occurrence of similar incidents in the future was underscored by Arzaga.

He also called for stricter regulations and monitoring of public transport operations to guarantee the safety of commuters.

Meanwhile, the provincial board expressed its condolences to the families and loved ones of the victims who perished in the tragic incident.