MANILA — To protect train commuters from risks caused by pilferage of railway tracks, Sen. Miriam Defensor Santiago pushed on Sunday for measures aimed at imposing stringent penalties against persons who steal public transportation vehicles or related fixtures.
Santiago, a multi-awarded trial court judge, is set to file the Public Transport Preservation Bill which seeks to amend Act No. 3815, also known as the Penal Code, and the Anti-Fencing of Government Property Bill, which will amend Presidential Decree No. 1612, also known as the Anti-Fencing Law.
“The perennial issues of congestion, unreliability, and deterioration of our train systems must be addressed, but we must also ensure that any solution presented will not be for naught because of thieves who saw off train tracks and sell them for cheap,” Santiago said.
Under the Public Transport Preservation Bill, penalties for robbery will be one degree higher than that prescribed in the present law if the crime involves pilferage of public transportation vehicles, spare parts, safety devices, fixtures, or equipment.
If enacted, the Anti-Fencing of Government Property Bill will also increase penalties one degree higher than that prescribed in the present law for any person found guilty of buying or selling public transport-related items obtained through theft or robbery.
“When you steal anything related to public transport, you are not only committing the crime of theft or robbery but also exposing to danger hundreds of thousands of commuters who rely on public transport on a daily basis,” the senator said.
Citing government data, the senator said that more than one million Filipinos use train lines in Metro Manila every day. All four railways — the Philippine National Railways, the Metro Rail Transit, and the Light Rail Transit Lines 1 and 2 — have in recent years been plagued by complaints from the riding public.
Santiago’s bills come amid the arrest of three persons suspected of stealing rail joints, angle bars, and rail clips of the PNR track near Taguig City. The missing parts were blamed for a recent derailment that hurt some 50 passengers.