As Filipinos travel this Holy Week to take advantage of the long weekend, Senator Alan Peter Cayetano on Monday urged government officials and personnel to be very strict in implementing safety standards for public transport vehicles to prevent tragedies such as the March 29 ferry fire in Basilan from happening again.
“Ako’y nakikiusap sa lahat ng kawani ng gobyerno: obligasyon po natin to keep people safe,” Cayetano said in an interview with reporters after the opening of The Life of Christ reflection site in the City of Taguig on April 3, 2023.
“And the best way to do that is walang papalusutin pagdating sa regulation,” he added.
This as the Bureau of Fire Protection (BFP) on Monday said the fire that razed the MV Lady Mary Joy 3 along the waters of Basilan Province may have been caused by an electric short circuit. The Basilan local government had earlier said the final death toll of the tragedy stood at 28.
Cayetano said the authorities must be firm in banning substandard public utility vehicles and transport units from the roads and sea lanes.
“‘Pag ininspect ang bus, kotse, truck at talagang substandard at hindi pwede sa kalye, ‘wag nating pilitin,” he said.
“‘Pag tiningnan natin y’ung train, baka takot lang tayong ma-media na hindi pinaandar y’ung tren na y’un pero delikado naman pala,” he added.
Citing previous tragedies that have claimed numerous lives due to negligence, Cayetano said it is time for the government to learn from them.
“Ilan po ang nakita nating trahedya [sa mga nakalipas na taon], whether disco na nasunog na maraming naipit sa loob, earthquake na hindi tama ang bakal na ginamit sa building, ferry o barko na nasunog o lumubog, mga overloaded o mga walang safety equipment katulad ng mga life vest,” he said.
The senator stressed that the revenue the transport industry generates is not worth the lives an accident can claim.
“May kikitain po talaga sa transportation, pero kung ikaw naman ay magiging parte ng isang malaking trahedya, eh hindi matutumbasan ‘yan ng kahit anong pera,” he said.
“‘Pag ang tao po ay namatay, hindi mo na mabubuhay ‘yan kahit bilyon pa ang ibuhos mo d’yan,” he stressed.
Cayetano also encouraged the public to make use of social media to report their first-hand experiences on malpractices and lack of safety measures in public transport.
“Modern na po ngayon. Kung kayo ay nagbabyahe at may nakikita kayong violation sa law, y’un ang magandang paggamitan ng social media,” he said.