CAR owners with young children have a year to install car seats for their kids 12 years old and below before the Child Safety in Motor Vehicles Act is strictly enforced.
Under Republic Act 11229 or the Child Safety in Motor Vehicles Act, children 12 years old and below can no longer ride in private vehicles without a child restraint system (CRS) using safety car seats.
RA 11229 was signed by President Rodrigo Duterte on Feb. 22, 2019, but its implementing rules and regulation (IRR) still have to be signed by the secretary of the Department of Transportation (DOTr) and the assistant secretary of the Land Transportation Office (LTO).
Jarriza Biscante, project development officer of the DOTr, said they will allow a one-year transition to give time for parents to acquire CRS and for law enforcers to undergo training on how to implement the law.
For one year, law enforcers will apprehend motor vehicle drivers who violate the law. But they will start imposing penalties on erring drivers only one year after the signing of the IRR.
RA 11229 provides for the special protection of child passengers of transporting private motor vehicles through the mandatory use of an appropriate CRS or safety seat for children based on their age, height and weight.
The law covers children 12 years old and below except when the child is at least 150 centimeters or 59 inches in height and is properly secured in seat belt; when the child has medical emergencies and developmental condition or other “analogous” circumstances.
“We wanted to make it to a point that it is actually safer for the child to use the CRS than to actually hold the child during the transport,” Biscante said in a forum on Friday, Dec. 6.
Some parents interviewed by SunStar Cebu expressed reservations on the implementation of the new law.
Recel Nuñez, 26, a housewife with a two-year-old son, said she supports the new law but the government should at least make the standardized child safety devices affordable for all.
Jane Michelle Raagas, 33, a nurse, expressed her support for it “because it’s for the safety of my son.”
Biscante said there are options for the parents and the guardians to secure affordable yet standard CRS.
“Since it’s already passed, there will be a demand for the CRS. The Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) is already considering the standards, and there is a quote that we learned that the expensive CRS is not necessarily the safest CRS,” she said.
In December 2016, the World Health Organization and the Philippine Country Office commissioned a research study on the availability, affordability and acceptability of CRS in the country. The study found 68 brands of child car seats available in the Philippines.
There are four types of child car seats including the rear-facing only, booster seat, front-facing only, and the combination.
In a mall in Cebu, the price of a safety car seat ranges from P3,000 to P30,000, while second-hand safety car seats can also be bought online for about P1,500 to P4,500.
“We also acknowledge that there are parents who use CRS prior to the approval of the RA 11229. We included it in the IRR. Any person who intends to use such CRS shall secure a clearance from the LTO or the nearest Regional Office not later than one year after the lapse of the transitory period,” she said.
Any driver violating the law shall be fined P1,000 for the first offense; P2,000 for the second offense and P5,000 plus suspension of driver’s license for succeeding offenses.
Drivers who use substandard, expired or unlicensed CRS will be fined P1,000 for the first offense; P3,000 for the second offense, and P5,000 plus suspension of driver’s license for the succeeding offense.
She said the DTI is mandated to use standards set by the United Nations Regulations 44 and 129 (Enhanced Child Restraint Systems) and other acceptable international standards when crafting the guidelines for the CRS safety standards.
“Within six months after the effectivity of the IRR or by June next year, once the IRR is approved next week, the DTI should develop the guidelines adopting the international standards,” she said.
Meanwhile, the DOTr is required by the law to conduct a study on the use of CRS in public utility vehicles (PUV.)
“We will be studying the feasibility of the use of CRS in PUVs including jeepneys, buses, and school buses, taxis, and other motor vehicles used for public transport. Then if it is possible, we will recommend to Congress. If not, the DOTr shall recommend other necessary measures for the safety and protection of children in these vehicles,” she said.
Under the law, the LTO should also implement a nationwide training program for law enforcing organizations to build their capacity in enforcing the provisions of the law.
The LTO may deputize members of the Philippine National Police, the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board, and the local government units to assist in the enforcement.