MANILA, Philippines – According to Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB), the Panda Coach Tourist bus that crashed in Tanay, Rizal was 29 years old already, more than twice the 15-year limit prescribed by law.
"Nalaman namin na ang real age ng bus is not 15 years (old) but 29 years (old). (We knew that the real age of the bus is not 15 years old but 29 years old,)" LTFRB chief Martin Delgra III confirmed during a Senate hearing on the incident.
The bus was traveling along Sitio Bayucan in Barangay Sampaloc, Tanay when it lost its brakes and crashed into an electric post at around 9 am. The bus had over 50 teenage students as passengers.
Fifteen people, mostly college students, were killed after the bus they were riding crashed into an electric post. (READ: Relatives seek justice after Tanay bus accident)
The bus driver also died in the hospital, officials said. At least 40 others were injured in the incident.
Motor vehicle inspections
According to Department of Transportation and Communication Order No. 2002-30, buses in operation for more than 15 years must be phased out.
"Maraming bus operator na maparaan. To circumvent the 15-year rule, yung makina papalitan. Yung chassis, papalitan lang yung number. Tapos ire-register as "rebuilt." Yung practice na yun, nananatili yun," Former Land Transportation Office (LTO) head Alberto Suansing said.
(There are a lot of bus operators who are resourceful. To circumvent the 15-year rule, they change the engine. Change the chassis number. Then they register as "rebuilt." That practice continues.)
"That is why I said MVIS (motor vehicle inspection system) is important. We need to check the roadworthiness of the car," he said in a mix of English and Filipino. (READ: Lawmakers seek investigation into Tanay bus crash)
The MVIS is a system designed to inspect motor vehicles and determine whether these are environmentally sustainable and safe to be used on the road.
According to LTO chief Edgar Galvante, out of the 9 MVIS in the capital region, only one works.
No agency for crash investigations
According to Senator Grace Poe, who heads the Committe on Public Services, there is no central body that investigates crashes.
"The lack of a central autonomous body to investigate accidents has meant, more often than not, that regulatory bodies would conduct their own investigations. These agencies have acted as judge, jury, the executioner – leading to rumors of institutional whitewashes and cover-ups," the senator said.
Poe stressed the need for a National Transport Safety Board. (READ: What laws help keep road users safe in the Philippines?)
"It underscores the need for an independent body. Meron talagang (There really is) conflict of interest. It is timely that we pass a remedial legislation that will focus on the clear-cut investigation on transport-related accidents," she said. (READ: QC, Manila, Makati record most road crashes – MMDA)
According to her, the board should investigate transport accidents such as aircraft, railroad, highway, and major road accidents. It should also conduct a study on transport safety.
The World Health Organization estimated that 1.25 million people die in road crashes every year. In the Philippines alone, WHO figures indicate that there are more than 10,000 fatalities in 2013.– Rappler.com