House panel scolds transport agencies for not improving services

House panel scolds transport agencies for not improving services
DOTC, LTO, LTFRB, LRT, MRT officials have until August 12 to submit reports on how they have improved their services, or their budgets for 2016 are in peril

MANILA, Philippines – The Department of Transportation and Communications (DOTC) and its attached agencies got a scolding from lawmakers on Wednesday, July 29, for failing to act on recommendations to improve their services.

In his “State of the Committee Address,” committee chairman Catanduanes Representative Cesar Sarmiento said most of their recommendations “were not taken into heart” by the transportation agencies.

In his report, Sarmiento noted the number of bills and investigations the House panel had conducted on various issues in the transport sector, such as:

Sarmiento ordered transportation agencies to submit by August 12 progress reports on how they addressed the recommendations raised by lawmakers during the committee hearings.

Failure to meet the deadline would be taken into consideration during Congress’ deliberations on the agencies’ proposed budget for 2016, he added.

In his address, Sarmiento reiterated the committee’s proposals for various transportation agencies.

For the Land Transportation Office (LTO), Sarmiento said the agency must improve its tests for drivers’ license applications, noting that the number of road accidents and deaths could be prevented if only those who are fit to drive are granted the licenses.

Hindi lamang trabaho ng LTO ang pag-issue ng plastic licenses. Dapat siguraduhing karapat-dapat ang binibigyan ng lisensiya,” he said. (It is not the LTO’s job to merely issue plastic licenses. It must also ensure that only those who are fit to drive are given a license.)

For the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB), Sarmiento recommended that it conducts a scientific study to determine what routes are used by the public, and to stop issuing new franchises for public utility vehicles “until there’s basis to do so.”

He also reiterated that while Congress welcomes innovation in transportation – referring to transportation network companies like Uber and GrabTaxi – LTFRB must work with Congress to enact a law that will allow these services to operate legally.

For the railway sector, Sarmiento urged the Philippine National Railways to implement and finish projects under its P2.4 billion budget for 2015.

He also told officials of the Light Rail Transit and MRT3 to ensure the efficient implementation of its rehabilitation projects and upgrade of facilities.

For the MRT3, which has been plagued by frequent glitches and breakdowns, Sarmiento demanded a plan to figure out how to repair and operate 20 train sets that were out of service. –

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