There needs to be a thorough Â investigation into reports of sudden unintended acceleration (SUA) incidents involving Mitsubishi Montero sports utility vehicles (SUVs) to the prejudice of public safety.
With thousands of passenger cars travelling the commuter roads daily, there is an urgent need to protect and safeguard consumer rights and the welfare of motorists from this series of SUAs that have already claimed lives, injured people and damaged properties.
Senator Koko Pimentel has filed a resolution directing the Senate Committee on Trade, Commerce and Entrepreneurship to conduct an inquiry, in pursuit of the State policy to protect the interests of consumers from trade malpractices and from substandard or hazardous.
Since 2011 numerous reports have circulated concerning complaints of motorists that their Mitsubishi Montero SUVs had abruptly and uncontrollably sped up upon shifting from park to drive, even as the drivers firmly had their foot on the brake pedal.
This defect is known as Sudden Unintended Acceleration (SUA).
In 2010 of lawyer Rebecca Arambulo-Barbo, wife of former Eastern Samar governor and Senate secretary Lutgardo Barbo, was then backing up at their driveway when her Montero SUV suddenly accelerated forward while on reverse gear, bumping their familyâ€™s other car.
Another lawyer, Casiano Flores Jr., was hospitalized for 12 days after sustaining serious head injuries and fractures on his right leg when on October 24 this year, while backing up from a food establishment, his Montero SUV quickly accelerated and crashed into a wall despite his stepping on the brakes.
Only last Nov. 10, retired Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) Engr. Bernardino Bernardo sustained burns while his wife Avelina had a fractured right arm when their Montero SUV abruptly sped up even before the victim had his foot on the accelerator.
The Montero Sports mowed down two motorcycles and tricycles which were parked in front of the SUV, including an empty car after Bernardo had swerved his car towards a vacant lot to avoid injuring more people.
Complaints were aired in media, including that of lawyer Charlie Tomaru, whose Montero suddenly accelerated while driving in Quezon City with his seven children and from Jenny Pantoja whose SUV flipped over three times across a steep roadside in Subic before it was prevented from falling off a ledge by an electric post.
Since 2011, the Philippine National Police Highway Patrol Group (PNP-HPG) has recorded at least 23 SUA incidents involving Montero SUVs from motorists in Metro Manila, Cavite, Antipolo City, Batangas, Tacloban City and Iloilo City.
A latest official statement from Mitsubishi Motors Philippines claimed, however, that the Montero SUV is neither defective nor unsafe to use, and that a series of tests conducted from 2011 on units allegedly experiencing the said problem yielded not a single manifestation of SUA.
Mitsubishi has to do more as the situation is fast becoming a public relations disaster that is poised to hit the bottomline.
But several complaints still continue to surface social media and Internet blog sites.
A report by the House of Representatives last March disclosed 97 reported cases of SUAs involving Mitsubishi Montero SUVs were recorded.
Congress has the responsibility to determine if there is a need to enhance, modify, or amend existing legislation to guarantee that automotive units assembled and manufactured here, as well as the quality of spare parts imported, are at par with regional and global safety and performance standards.
Congress should also assess and evaluate existing legislation on consumer protection to ensure that consumers will have avenues to seek efficient redress from government agencies mandated to protect their rights, as well as put in place mechanisms for the efficient identification of issues concerning motor vehicle. (By Atty. Jay I. Dejaresco)