Motorcycle crashes No. 9 killer in Philippines

Jess Diaz - The Philippine Star

MANILA, Philippines — Motorcycle accidents are now the ninth leading cause of death among Filipinos, according to the Land Transportation Office (LTO).

There are seven million registered motorcycles in the country, three million more than cars and all other vehicles combined.

In a report submitted to the House of Representatives committee on ways and means, LTO chief Edgar Galvante said motorcycle crashes were not in the top 10 causes of death “five years, 10 years ago.”

The LTO presented the report in connection with a bill that seeks to increase the road user tax by at least 300 percent.

The 11 million owners of motorcycles and other vehicles pay the levy to the LTO in the form of higher annual registration fees.

Ironically, the bill authored by Albay Rep. Joey Salceda, ways and means committee chairman, would exempt the seven million motorcycle owners not only from the increase but from the entire road user tax as well.

The LTO report jibes with a 2016 Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) survey on Filipino deaths, which showed that road crashes were not among the top causes of deaths several years ago.

Ischemia-related heart problems were reported to be the top killer of Filipinos, followed by cancer, pneumonia, cerebrovascular diseases, hypertension, diabetes, other heart ailments, respiratory tuberculosis, chronic lower respiratory infections and diseases of the genitourinary system.

Ischemia means an inadequate supply of blood to an organ or part of the body, especially the heart muscles.

A total of 582,183 Filipino deaths were reported in 2016, or an average of 1,591 per day, 66 per hour and one per minute, the PSA report showed.

To make the public “keenly aware of the causes, consequences and costs of road crash deaths and injuries,” the House has approved on third and final reading Bill 4611.

The measure seeks to designate the third Sunday of November as the National Day of Remembrance for Road Crash Victims, Survivors and their Families.

Ilocos Norte Rep. Ria Fariñas and her brother Rudys Cesar, representative of party-list group Probinsyano Ako, authored the bill, which the committee on transportation chaired by Samar Rep. Edgar Mary Sarmiento endorsed.

The Fariñases’ youngest brother, Rodolfo Jr., died in a motorcycle crash in November 2015 in their home city of Laoag, Ilocos Norte.

Their father, Rodolfo Fariñas, was House majority leader in the last Congress. He filed a similar bill, which the House approved but the Senate failed to pass.

Yesterday, he said Sen. Grace Poe has authored a counterpart measure in the Senate upon his request.

He said he hoped the bill would become a law next month.

Among other mandates, the proposed law would task the Department of Transportation “to improve the road safety situation by addressing key risk factors to prevent road crashes.”

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