Text by REYNARD MAGTOTO, Photos and Video by VINCENT GO
ROAD safety advocates launched on Sunday morning a websitein commemoration of the first year of the Decade of Action for Road Safety (DARS), which coincided with the first death anniversary of journalist Lourdes “Chit” Estella who died in a road accident a year ago.
The website www.dotcdars.com, a project of the Department of Transportation and Communications, was unveiled during a program at the Quezon City Memorial Circle that capped fun runs, walkathons and other activities around Metro Manila designed to raise awareness of DARS.
The site offers global road safety stories, special reports, safety issues and violations, community initiatives as well as blogs of road safety advocates in a bid to “extend that partnership to the rest of the Filipino community by providing a social context where we can all be connected to the decision making process and join hands in saving lives.”
It also features the Philippine Road Safety Action Plan that shows the latest data and development including the latest country initiatives presented last April 18-19 to the United Nations General Assembly.
The website is linked to local and international websites such as those of the DOTC, UN, World Health Organization and World Bank, and to social networking sites such as Facebook, Twitter, Flickr and Youtube.
Earlier in the day, about 500 people from the government and private sectors joined runs, bike-athons, a walkathon and a motorbike caravan, all in the name of road safety, from Rizal Park, Antipolo City, Tiendesitasin Pasig, SM Fairview in Quezon City, the University of the Philippines campus in Diliman, Quezon City and Market!Marketfrom Taguig.
Participants came from the DOTC, Philippine National Red Cross, Metro Manila Development Authority, Families of other Road Victims and Survivors (FRVS),Global Road Safety Partnership, Safe Kids Philippines, Philippine National Police, Army, Navy, Coast Guard, Air Force, Manila Water, KaligtasanKalusuganKalikasan Revolution, Firefly Brigade, Motorcycle Federation, National Commuters Welfare Protection, Safety Organization of the Philippines and local government units, among others.
Estella’s husband Roland Simbulan, who heads the FRVS, stressed that road safety is everyone’s concern and “should be a right” because, he said, every time a person goes out, he or she risks not returning home alive.
Simbulan also challenged government agencies and law enforcers not only to “enforce” traffic rules and regulations but “to lead by example.”
Estella, a founding trustee of VERA Files and a journalism professor at UP-Diliman,was killed when a bus rammed into her taxi along Commonwealth avenue in Quezon City.
Assistant Transportation Secretary Dante M. Lantin, the national focal point of DARS said Estella’s death anniversary gave meaning to the commemoration of DARS and also gave reason to form the FRVS road support group.
The FRVS was formed in March after Simbulan attended a road safety forum at Camp Crameto serve as “a support group and at the same time an advocacy group for road safety, especially the enforcement of rules and regulations for road users.”
The Philippines is one of 100 countries that have committed to support DARS, which has set out to reduce deaths and injuries from road crashes by keeping the UN’s Five Pillars of Road Safety: Safer Roads, Safer Vehicles, Safer Road Users, Improved Road Safety Management and Post-Crash Care.
(The author is a journalism student of the Bicol University who is writing for VERA Files as part of his internship.)