The Decade of Action for Road Safety 2011-2020 had a worldwide launch last May 11, 2011. It was a “rolling” launch as different countries held their own events as they greeted May 11 . The Decade of Action seeks to reduce the incidence of road crashes both in terms of crash rates, and fatalities and injuries by half. This would be impossible if people, organizations and institutions will not collaborate or cooperate with one another. The Decade of Action calls for all to combine efforts in addressing what is now considered as a killer disease and among the Top Ten causes of death. If we do nothing, it is expected that road crashes will be ahead of such diseases as tuberculosis and congenital heart disease as a cause of death within a decade or so. It is already the leading cause of death for people aged 15-25 years according to the World Health Organization (WHO).
In the Philippines, the formal launching was hosted by the Asian Development Bank (ADB) at 8:00 AM. The other activities marking the event were held at the Quezon City Memorial Circle later in the afternoon. The morning affair was well attended considering that invitations were limited to selected road safety advocates (it was not open to the public). Among those at the presidential table last Wednesday morning were DOTC Secretary Jose De Jesus, DPWH Secretary Rogelio Singson, Rep. Roger Mercado (who is Chair of the House Committee on Transportation), Philippine Global Road Safety Partnership Chair Augusto Lagman (who is also Automobile Association Philippines President and a newly appointed COMELEC Commissioner), WHO Country Representative Dr. Soe-Nyunt-U, ADB Vice President Bindu Lohani, and ADB Practice Leader for Transport Tyrell Duncan. A placecard with the name of MMDA Chair Francis Tolentino was at the table but he was not able to make it to the event.
The program included remarks and messages from the ADB, the WHO, the Philippine House of Representatives, the Philippine Senate (read by Gus Lagman), and presentations of the ADB Action Plan and revised and improved Philippine Road Safety Action Plan (PRSAP 2011-2020). The final part of the program featured a keynote speech delivered by Sec. Singson where he also read the Presidential Proclamation 159 declaring 2011 as the launching year of the Decade of Action in the Philippines and calling for all to participate and support in efforts to promote road traffic safety. The month of May is already being observed as Safety Month throughout the country.
In his Keynote, Sec. Singson also talked about the DPWH’s commitment to ensure that national highways in the country will be designed for safety and informed the audience about the another launch held the previous week at the DPWH Region IV office in Quezon City. This was a project launch for the International Road Assessment Program (iRAP), which will be assessing about 3,000 kilometers of roads, mostly expressways and national roads in Luzon and Visayas. For security reasons, and particularly because the project involves road trips on-board a vehicle fitted with sophisticated equipment as well as foreign consultants, Mindanao roads were passed up for the current assessment. The assessment will allow for the rating of road sections according to a “star” rating system developed and standardized by iRAP. This would lead to recommendations to address safety issues for motorists, pedestrians and cyclists. Sec. Singson ended his speech with a reiteration of the DPWH’s and the country’s commitment to making roads safe for all.