Arroyo eyes creation of transportation security body to address terror threats

MANILA-- Former President and now Pampanga Rep. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo is pushing for the creation of a body that will improve the transportation security of the country to fight the scourge of terrorism.

In a statement on Wednesday, Arroyo said it is high time to create an independent transportation security office that will secure all modes of transportation in the Philippines as a counterterrorism effort both nationally and internationally.

Arroyo filed House Bill No. 5092, or the Philippine Transportation Security Act of 2017, which seeks the transformation of the Office of the Transportation Security (OTS) under the Department of Transportation into the National Transportation Security Regulatory Commission (NTSRC).

An independent and single authority performing oversight function 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, she said.

NTRSC will have oversight powers over the Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines (CAAP), Maritime Industry Authority (MARINA), Philippine Coast Guard (PCG), Land Transportation Office (LTO) and the Land Transportation Franchising Regulatory Board (LTFRB), including government and private airport, sea port and land transportation operators.

Arroyo explained that the transformation of the OTS into the NTSRC would pave way for the improvement of transportation security governance, bringing about a competitive and world class-transportation industry. The OTS was created during her time as president under Executive Order No. 277.

Under her bill, the NTSRC shall come up with a transportation security program that complies with all the country's international obligations on transportation and harmonizes existing regulatory policies.

Furthermore, the Commission will likewise ensure that all responsibilities of the concerned government agencies on transportation are properly delineated to avoid conflict and establish accountability.

The system of accountability ensures that relevant government agencies, as well as industry players tasked to perform functions geared towards deterrence, protection and response to terrorist attacks and other acts of unlawful interference, are performing their functions effectively and efficiently, thereby reducing the possibility and mitigating the consequences of terrorist attacks, Arroyo said.

The bill stated that the NTRSC will be composed of a Chairman and four members who shall be appointed by the President of the Philippines with a fixed term of 7 years with no re-appointment.

Just like the first world countries in America and Europe, as well as in Asia, the transportation industry in the Philippines is facing challenges in the area of transportation security which, if not systematically addressed, could potentially jeopardize the phenomenal and unprecedented growth the country has been experiencing in the recent years, Arroyo said.

"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 added.

Source: Philippines News Agency

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