MANILA, Philippines – Pampanga 2nd District Representative Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo has filed a bill seeking to create a transportation security commission that would address the threat of terrorism in the sector.
The former president filed House Bill (HB) Number 5092 or the Philippine Transportation Security Act of 2017, which would transform the Office of the Transportation Security (OTS) under the Department of Transportation into the National Transportation Security Regulatory Commission (NTSRC).
Arroyo filed the bill following recent terror attacks in airports, road networks, and train stations in Europe. She also mentioned the 2010 Luneta hostage crisis, which left 8 Hong Kong tourists dead. (READ: ISIS planning more attacks in PH and region – terror expert)
Arroyo's presidency was also marked by terror attacks on transportation facilities. On February 27, 2004, the Philippines suffered its deadliest terrorist attack – the Superferry 14 bombing that claimed 116 lives. It had been touted as one of the world's worst terror attacks at sea.
In March 2003, terrorists planted a bomb at the waiting area of the old Davao International Airport terminal, killing 22 people and hurting 155 others. A month later, a bomb exploded at the entrance of Sasa Wharf, also in Davao City, killing 16 people, including 4 policemen.
Under Arroyo's bill, the NTRSC would be tasked to implement a transportation security program to ensure the country complies with all its international obligations on transportation.
The commission would also have oversight powers over the Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines, Maritime Industry Authority, Philippine Coast Guard, Land Transportation Office, Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board, and government and private operators of airports, sea ports, and land transportation.
'System of accountability'
Arroyo said this “system of accountability” would allow the concerned agencies concerned to perform their functions “geared towards deterrence, protection, and response to terrorist attacks and other acts of unlawful interference.”
“An independent and single authority performing oversight function on the transportation security becomes essential given the network characteristics of international and domestic travel and the consequent accountability challenges that exist in the transportation sector,” Arroyo said in her explanatory note to HB 5092.
She said transforming the OTS into the NTRSC can help facilitate "a competitive and world-class transportation industry."
Under the proposed measure, the NTRSC would be headed by a chairman and 4 other members, each appointed by the President for a fixed term of 7 years with no reappointment.
To avoid conflict of interest, the appointees must not be related by blood or affinity with any investor, stockholder, officer, or director of any company in the transportation industry.
Arroyo argued the Philippine transportation sector continues to face several challenges in transportation security which may hamper the country’s develpoment.
“Thus, defining and criminalizing acts of unlawful interference in transportation systems, and imposing stringent penalties and sanctions to such acts or to any violations of transportation security regulations becomes mandatory,” she said. – Rappler.com