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House blamed for billboard accident

Santiago claims conspiracy vs anti-billboard bill
By Maila Ager
INQUIRER.net
First Posted 15:24:00 10/14/2008

MANILA, Philippines -- Senator Miriam Defensor Santiago blamed the House of Representatives for the latest billboard accident along EDSA, where at least five people were injured, saying it could have been avoided had the chamber passed the anti-billboard bill.

“This recent man-made calamity could have been avoided if the House had passed my bill. But there was a conspiracy to let it die a natural death,” Santiago said in a statement on Tuesday.

Santiago is the principal sponsor of the bill that had been approved by the Senate during the 13th Congress but did not pass in the House allegedly because of the influence of a lobby from billboard groups.

The measure has to be re-filed and passed again by both chambers in the present 14th Congress.

Santiago criticized an alleged “billboard lobby” for launching a media blitz against her bill, and working with certain legislators so that no action would be taken in the lower House.

“These illegal billboards have killed innocent people over several years. Under the police power of the state, they could even be banned outright,” she said, adding that “Corporate greed is driving these billboards, because the law is too liberal. Radical problems need radical solutions.”

She said the media was also afraid to take up the anti-billboard advocacy, because even its own advertisers were using the billboards.

“Advertising is acceptable, provided it takes a form that does not endanger lives and property,” the senator said.

Senator Ramon “Bong” Revilla also pushed for the immediate passage of the measure as he criticized the Department of Public Works and Highways for the latest incident.

“Apparently, the DPWH is caught sleeping on its job after three billboards on EDSA fell on Monday, injuring five people and again snarling traffic,” said Revilla.

“The inspection and monitoring of billboards should be on a regular basis, not after there is already an accident. This is a clear sample of ningas-kugon [negligence],” he said.

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