De Lima files Senate bill to protect commuters vs abusive drivers

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Opposition Senator Leila M. de Lima has introduced a measure in the Senate seeking to ensure the safety and comfort of commuters whenever they avail of services provided by common carriers or Public Utility Vehicles (PUVs).

De Lima filed Senate Bill (SB) No. 1165, or the “Passenger Transit Rights Acts of 2019,” which seeks to establish clear standards for service for the riding public and provide relief against unprofessional and abusive drivers.

“The traffic congestion is a mere fraction of the daily stressors our commuters encounter and struggle with whilst availing of the services of common carriers,” she said.

“While uncomfortably seated in cramped public utility vehicles, the space – or the lack of it, becomes least of their concerns.  They clamor for comfort, but ultimately, they beg for safety,” she added.

The Supreme Court declared that common carriers are obliged “to transport its passengers to their destinations with the utmost diligence of a very cautious person.”

De Lima, however, lamented that public transportation in present times has subjected commuters to daily passage in dilapidated vehicles under the control of unprofessional and abusive drivers who do not prioritize their passengers’ safety.

“Exposed to this unfortunate experience and a daily exposure to risks and accidents,  under the hands of drivers and operators having very little to no regard to the rights of commuters,  it therefore becomes obligatory upon the State to ensure their safety  whenever they avail of services,” said the former justice secretary.

Under SB No. 1165, De Lima listed the minimum standards that must be maintained and observed by public utility vehicles to ensure that the rights and welfare of the passengers are upheld and protected.

The minimum standards of PUVs include the right of every passenger to travel while seated throughout the journey, to enjoy a safe ride, to demand and receive exact change, and to be provided safe, clean, suitable, well-lighted and secured waiting sheds, among others.

The same standards, likewise, ordered that drivers cannot demand a higher fare than what is indicated in the fare matrix provided by concerned government agencies while metered vehicles cannot refuse passengers on the ground of distance or heavy traffic.

The De Lima measure also mandates the creation of a Passenger Transit Rights Commission which is duty-bound to ensure that the minimum standards under SB No. 1165 are observed and adjusted as the need arises.

“The Commission will not only evaluate the conditions to which the riding public are exposed, it shall also study and lay down contingency plans so that instances where technical glitches  create additional burden for commuters to suffer from, immediate and efficient assistance and resolution shall be delivered by the concerned government agency or office,” she explained.

To provide the riding public for prompt redress of their grievances, the measure also mandates the establishment of a Transportation Action Center (TAC) which shall be in charge of receiving and adjudicating passenger complaints.

This 18th Congress, De Lima also filed Senate Bill No. 850, or the “Philippine Road Safety Institute Act,” which seeks to create the Philippine Road Safety Institute (PRSI) that will help keep thoroughfares safe for both drivers and commuters. (30)

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