Full enforcement of child car seat law deferred
MANILA, Philippines — Transportation officials have agreed to defer the full enforcement of the child car seat law, which requires private motorists to use car seats for children below 12 years old to prevent injury in case of a crash.
“There’s still no need to worry about being apprehended or fined. We won’t penalize or give sanctions to violators for now. We will only remind them about the law while we’re still developing public awareness on it,” Land Transportation chief Edgar Galvante said in an online press briefing on Tuesday, the first day of implementation of Republic Act No. 11229, or the Child Safety in Motor Vehicles Act.
The Department of Transportation (DOTr) and the Land Transportation Office (LTO) are the lead implementing agencies of the new law, which aims to to keep children safe while aboard motor vehicles.
But Goddes Libiran, assistant transportation secretary for communications, said the LTO would conduct an information, education, and communications campaign for three to six months before strictly enforcing the new law.
“[Transportation Secretary Arthur Tugade] also said we must consider the current situation, given that we have a pandemic, so no apprehensions will be made for now,” Libiran told reporters.
Under the law, fines for violators are P1,000 for the first offense and P2,000 for the second offense.
The third and succeeding offenses may lead to a one-year suspension of the violator’s driver’s license and a fine of P5,000.
The use of substandard child seats is also punishable under the law.
According to the World Health Organization, the use of child restraints in vehicles can reduce the likelihood of a fatal crash by 70 percent among infants and between 54 to 80 percent among young children.
Only private vehicles
“Road safety deaths can be considered a silent pandemic. Filipinos, especially children who are more fragile, continue to be vulnerable to road crashes,” said Mark Steven Pastor, the assistant transportation secretary for road transport.
Ako Bicol Rep. Alfredo Garbin Jr. had urged the DOTr to suspend some provisions of the child car seat law, since children under 15 years old are not allowed to go out during the pandemic.
But Pastor said that while the DOTr recognizes that children below 15 years old cannot go out because of the pandemic, “the implementation of RA 11229 is not a decision of the DOTr or the LTO.”
“It took effect by operation of law signed by the President. The law, however, is not limited to apprehending violators,” Pastor said.
RA 11229 was signed by President Duterte on Feb. 22, 2019.
The implementation rules for the new law was approved on Dec. 23, 2019 and took effect on Feb. 2, 2021.
Libiran added that the drafting of the rules “underwent a series of public consultations with parents, guardians, among others” and was “a product of multistakeholder collaboration.”
The law, however, only applies to private motor vehicles.
But Libiran said the DOTr would conduct a feasibility study if the same system could be applied to public utility vehicles.
A recommendation from the DOTr could then be tackled by Congress for legislation, Libiran said.
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