The Philippine Star | August 20, 2014

It’s good that the department with a reputation for slow action quickly completed its probe into the cause of the accident last week in which a Metro Rail Transit 3 train jumped the tracks in Pasay City and left nearly 40 passengers injured. The Department of Transportation and Communications finished its probe in record time, with blame being placed on two MRT drivers

and two control center personnel.

Such probes, however, are better handled by a body outside the department that supervises the MRT. The daang matuwid administration, which is starting to suffer from credibility issues, can consider the setup in other countries such as the United States, where transportation accidents are investigated by an independent body.

The reason for this is obvious: agencies in charge of transportation matters may themselves be responsible for actions or omissions that lead to accidents. Such agencies cannot be expected to come up with fair and credible findings. They cannot recommend the best ways to cure the cause of an accident and prevent its repeat.

The DOTC findings, which blamed human error for the MRT 3 accident, were released amid mounting public complaints about glitches and breakdowns in the light railway system. The accident also occurred as the public continues to wait for President Aquino’s action on the recommendations of the Department of Justice regarding accusations of a $30-million shakedown attempt allegedly involving Al Vitangcol III, who was sacked as MRT 3 general manager in May. The Office of the Ombudsman has launched its own probe into the alleged shakedown and nepotism in a maintenance contract for the MRT 3.

Some quarters suspect that maintenance weaknesses might have contributed to the MRT accident at its Taft Avenue station in Pasay. An administration that professes to follow the straight path should see that because of the controversies surrounding the MRT management, it is even more important to have a group outside the DOTC conduct a probe of the accident.