MANILA — An official from the Department of Transportation (DOTr) on Tuesday admitted that the agency failed to effectively educate the public about the child car seat law.
Speaking before members of the Senate Public Services Committee, Transportation Assistant Sec. Mark Steven Pastor said despite efforts to launch an information drive on Republic Act 11229 or the “Child Safety In Motor Vehicles Act” through print and broadcast media, his agency failed to do so as COVID-19 lockdowns were imposed beginning March last year.
“Yes, we recognize po that we could have done more," Pastor said when asked by Sen. Joel Villanueva, one of the law’s co-authors.
Under the law, children 12 years and below are disallowed in the front seat of a private vehicle and must be secured by a restraint system, unless they are at least 4.92 feet tall and can be properly secured by a regular belt.
Violators can face fines up to P5,000 and suspension of driver's license for a year.
CONFUSION, CONTROVERSY ON THE LAW
Former senator JV Ejercito, the law’s principal author, also took note of the government’s failure to effectively educate the public about the measure, even as he reiterated the importance of the safety of children when riding a vehicle.
Ejercito agreed though that implementing the law under the current situation is ill-timed.
“The law has all the good intentions. But its implementation has been untimely and illogical. Bakit ngayong panahon pa ng pandemya kung kailan halos sa lahat ng lugar sa bansa ay hindi naman pinapayagang lumabas at bumiyahe ang mga bata?” he said.
(Why does it have to be implemented during the height of the pandemic when children are prohibited from going out and traveling in most parts of the country?)
There is also confusion about the law as people lacked the right information as regards riding public utility vehicles (PUVs).
He pointed out that there is nothing in the law that mandates the bringing of a child car seat in PUVs.
“The law does not require the use of child restraint seat in public utility vehicles such as taxis and TNVS… Uulitin ko po, optional ito at hindi mandatory kung kayo ay sasakay ng PUVs,” he said.
(I repeat, this is optional and it is not mandatory if you ride PUVs.)
The Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) will soon be coming out with specifications on the required and safe child seats for vehicles.
Pastor assured the Senate panel that officials from the DOTr would reexamine the law’s implementing rules and regulations, including the provision on the establishment of “fitting stations” for baby’s car seats.
“We will defer the implementation of [the] fitting station.. Hindi po siya required (it is not required),” the official said.
The committee’s chairperson Sen. Grace Poe said that the fitting of child restraint in land transportation offices should be free of charge and voluntary.
The implementation of the law remains deferred.