By Charissa Luci-Atienza
Lawmakers are seeking the creation of the Office of Commuter Affairs in the Department of Transportation (DOTr) that would ensure the safe, efficient, and comfortable travel for the riding public and the use of public transportation by government officials.
Tingog Sinirangan party-list Rep. Yedda Marie Romualdez and House Majority Leader and Leyte Rep. Ferdinand Martin Romualdez filed House Bill 5621 or the proposed Magna Carta of Commuters, citing that “mobility is a basic human need.”
“This bill aims to enumerate and uphold the rights of the commuting public. These rights should range from public transportation services to safe and accessible infrastructure to clean air during travel and to commuter representation and participation,” they said.
“Above all, this Magna Carta calls for a shift from car-centric public policy and infrastructure to sustainable transport and mobility, one that provides safe access and mobility to all, promotes economic development while simultaneously preserving the environment and uplifts the Filipino commuter,” the House leaders pointed out.
Under the bill, public transport shall be available within a 500-meter walk from any residence or activity center in a city and that public transport services are connected to another public service within a 300-meter walk to promote seamless connectivity.
“In all decisions related to the provision of mobility infrastructure and transportation services, the welfare of the commuter shall be the paramount objective,” the Romualdezes said.
House Bill 5621 requires all public transport vehicles to install electronic vehicle tracking devices and CCTVs that will enable concerned authorities to conduct real-time monitoring of the vehicle’s location, speed, and driver status.
It also requires all government offices and buildings to have shower facilities for the use of commuters.
If these buildings receive citizens in the delivery of front-line services, these shower facilities must be open to the public, it said.
The bill also calls for the creation of a National Safety Unit under the Department of Transportation (DOTr) that would implement a national road crash database for road safety training.
Under the proposed Magna Carta of Commuters, all government officials are required to commute to their workplace by public transport or by active transport at least once a week
House Bill 5621 also calls for the creation of the Office of Commuter Affairs in the DOTr, which shall be headed by an Assistant Secretary.
The OCA is mandated to coordinate with other DOTr agencies as well as law enforcement agencies dealing with road, rail, air, and maritime transportation to ensure the safe, efficient, and comfortable travel of commuters.
Among the functions and responsibilities of the OCA are to operate help desks for the riding public; assist the commuters whenever the safety and efficiency of travel are compromised; undertake massive commuter education programs for the traveling public to know their rights and responsibilities; ensure legal assistance for commuters when necessary; and ensure adequate representation of commuters in any public consultation that will impact on the welfare and interest of commuters.
The DOTr is tasked to be the lead implementing agency of the proposed Act. It shall prepare the implementing rules and regulations within 180 days from the effectivity of the proposed Act.
Violators of the proposed Act shall pay a fine ranging from P200,000 to P500,000. If the offender is a public official, he or she shall be dismissed from government service, in addition to other penalties that shall be imposed.