PRESIDENT Rodrigo Duterte has signed Republic Act (RA) 11229, which mandates the use of child restraint systems on board motor vehicles to ensure the safety and welfare of child passengers, as well as prevent traffic-related deaths and injuries.
Under RA 11229 or the Child Safety in Motor Vehicles Act, Duterte stressed the need to "adequately, consistently, and objectively require, regulate, promote and inform the public on the use of child restraint systems in motor vehicles."
The President also emphasized the need to provide access to "safe, appropriate, quality and affordable child restraint systems, in accordance with international standards accepted by the United Nations (UN)."
"It is the policy of the state to ensure the safety of children while being transported in any form of motor vehicle," RA 11229 read.
"The state recognizes the right of children to assistance, including proper care, and special protection from all forms of neglect, abuse and other conditions prejudicial to their development, including exposure to safety risks while aboard motor vehicles," it added.
The newly-signed law declares it unlawful for the driver of private and public motor vehicles not to properly secure at all times a child in a child restraint system while the engine is running or transporting such child on any road, street or highway unless the child is at least 150 centimeters and is properly secured using the regular seat belt.
Child Restraint System is defined as a device "capable of accommodating a child occupant in a sitting or supine position." It is designed to diminish the risk of injury to the wearer, in the event of a collision or of abrupt deceleration of the vehicle, by limiting the mobility of the child's body.
RA 11229 provides that the child restraint system should be appropriate to the child's age, height and weight.
It also notes that no child 12 years old and below would be allowed to sit on the front seat of a motor vehicle with a running engine or while such child is being transported on any road, street, or highway, unless the child meets the height requirement and is properly secured using the regular seat belt in the front seat.
The law requires the Department of Trade and Industry to use standards set in UN regulations, including its evolving standards and other acceptable international standards in the approval or disapproval of child restraint systems that will be manufactured, sold, distributed and used in the country.
Such standards should be periodically updated based on current UN Regulations concerning Child Restraint Systems.
All manufacturers, importers, distributors, and sellers of child restraint systems are required to secure Philippine Standards (PS) mark license or Import Clearance Certificate (ICC) from the Bureau of Product Standards (BPS) prior to the marketing, sale, and distribution of their products.
The BPS is also mandated to periodically issue a list of child restraint systems manufacturers, importers, and distributors, and the brands which pass its standards. The roster should be published in a newspaper of general circulation or in its website.
The law also stresses that it is unlawful for any person, company, partnership, sole proprietorship, manufacturer, distributor, and importer to manufacture, use, import, sell, distribute, donate, lease, advertise, promote or market the use of "substandard or expired" child restraint system.
The Department of Transportation is directed to conduct a study and recommend to Congress the use of child restraint systems in public utility vehicles like jeepneys, buses, taxis vans, coasters, accredited service vehicles of transportation network companies, and all other motor vehicles used for public transport.
"Should the DOTr determine, after study, that child restraint systems are not applicable in certain public utility vehicles, it shall recommend to Congress other safety measures and/or regulations for the safe and secure transportation of children in such vehicles," the law said.
Any driver violating the law will be fined P1,000 for first offense; P2,000 for second offense; P5,000 and one-year suspension off driver's license for third and succeeding offenses.
Any manufacturer, distributor, importer, retailer and seller found to be violating the law will be punished with a fine not of up to P100,000 for each and every child restraint system product manufactured, distributed, imported and sold without prejudice to other penalties imposed under the Consumer Act of the Philippines.
Any driver who allows use of child restraint system that is either substandard, expired or does not bear the PS mark or the ICC sticker will be fined P1,000 for first offense; P3,000 for second offense; P5,000 and one-year suspension of driver's license for third and succeeding offenses.
Those who are guilty of tampering, alteration, forgery and imitation of the PS mark or the ICC sticker in the child restraint system will pay a fine of up to P100,000.
The law also mandates nationwide public information campaign on the proper installation, use and maintenance of the child restraint system within six months.
The Palace released a copy of RA 11229 on Wednesday, March 13. (SunStar Philippines)