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EDITORIAL - Safe, comfortable travel

For maritime transport alone, port officials are seeing 1.4 million travelers during the upcoming long holiday break to honor the dead and to vote in the barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan elections. Many more will be traveling by land and air.

The so-called Undas break is one of the peak travel periods in the country. Combined with the village and youth council elections, the movement of people is expected to be greater beginning this weekend. Transport, security and other agencies concerned must ensure travel safety for all modes of transportation.

This reminder should not be necessary, but the country has seen too many deadly accidents, especially on land and sea, because of lax enforcement of transport safety rules. Maritime transport rules in particular seem challenging to enforce in an archipelago of over 7,600 islands. From 2018 to 2022 alone, 782 maritime accidents were recorded all over the country, according to the Maritime Industry Authority.

On July 27 this year, 27 people died when the passenger boat Princess Aya capsized in Laguna de Bay. The boat was allowed to sail from Binangonan, Rizal as Typhoon Egay was just moving out of the country. Initial investigation showed that the boat was overloaded and the passengers were not made to wear life vests. Private players in the area had reportedly taken control of boat operations in the lake.

Accidents are even more depressingly common in land transport. Poorly maintained trucks, buses and passenger jeepneys lose their brakes especially along steep or winding mountain roads. Deadly accidents involving motorcycles are increasing. Road rage incidents leading to homicide, often involving private car owners, are also common.

Enforcement of safety rules is more stringent in air travel. For air passengers, the bigger concern in this country is the quality of the facilities and service at airports, starting with the busiest principal gateway in Metro Manila. Since the first day of 2023, during the peak holiday travel season, serious problems have bedeviled the Ninoy Aquino International Airport. For the Undas holidays, those power outages at the NAIA, long flight delays as well as theft of passengers’ cash and