MANILA, Philippines — The country’s roads are the most dangerous in Asia, Senator Francis Escudero said in a statement released Saturday.
Citing a study conducted by the United Nations Children’s Fund last year, he said that three of five road accidents involved child pedestrians and road accidents were the leading cause of injury admissions to hospitals.
Escudero’s statement came after a 10-year-old pupil from Ateneo died this week after being run over inside the school parking lot.
A separate study by child safety groups in the country shows that six children die from accidents in the country daily, the senator said, adding that the country has a total of 2,500 vehicular accidents monthly involving both children and adults.
Citing another study by the Asian Development Bank in 2006, Escudero said: “Overall, the 7.8 percent of the 100,000 people who die as a result of traffic-related accidents a year is one of the highest in Asia according to the Asian Development Bank.”
Escudero thus called on the government to make use of the Road Users Tax (RUT) to make streets safer for pedestrians.
He said the patent lack of safety signs, endless road diggings, varying traffic rules in different localities, aging motor vehicles, among other factors, contribute to the bad state of roads in Metro Manila and the rest of the country.
“More than P30 billion in (Road Users Tax revenues) over the last four years have not made streets any safer for kids. RUT-spending should be refocused to make schools child-safety zones. A driver can be fined for reckless (driving or) overspeeding, but who will fine the government for reckless spending of RUT funds?” he asked.
“Under Republic Act No. 8794, or Road User’s Tax Law, 7.5 centavos for every peso paid for car registration should go to a special road safety fund,” he said.
He said that this year, out of a projected P8.9 billion Road User’s Tax collection, an estimated P668 million should be funneled into this safety fund.
Julian Carlo Miguel Alcantara, known to his friends as “Amiel,” was inside the Ateneo campus with his 65-year-old nanny when he was hit and run over by a van.
“Beyond the fields of Ateneo lie grim statistics on child vehicular deaths. Road accidents have become the most prolific killer of Filipino children after pneumonia,” he said, referring to the Unicef study.
“Spent well and applied wisely, the whole road user’s tax fund can bankroll engineering and education initiatives that will result in safe roads. Unfortunately, the Road User’s Tax has been caught in the wrong priorities,” Escudero said.
Escudero bared that in the year 2006, total collection from the RUT amounted to P7.49 billion, while P7.73 billion was raised in 2007. Last year, it stood at around P8.34 billion.
He said the rush to register new vehicles has increased the dangers for children going to school.
“But the latter should not be hazardous to their health, and government has the resources to make it so,” Escudero said.